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Presented  to  the 

LIBRARY  of  the 


Willard  G.  Oxtoby 

Oriental    Street   Scene. 




Illustratcb  bg  ®iw  f  nnbrcb  anb  Skig-rigbt  (£ngrabings. 


New  York  : 



Entered    according   to    Act    of    Coirrress,    in     ihe    year     1874,    by 

in  the  Office  of  the  Librarian  of  Congress  at  Washington. 


CHOUGH  the  Bible  is  adapted  to  all  nations,  it  is  in  many  respects  an 
Oriental  book.  It  represents  the  modes  of  thought  and  the  peculiar  cus 
toms  of  a  people  who,  in  their  habits,  widely  differ  from  us.  One  who  lived 
among  them  for  many  years  has  graphically  said:  "  Modes,  customs,  usages, 
all  that  you  can  set  down  to  the  score  of  the  national,  the  social,  or  the  con 
ventional,  are  precisely  as  different  from  yours  as  the  east  is  different  from  the 
west.  They  sit  when  you  stand ;  they  lie  when  you  sit ;  they  do  to  the  head 
what  you  do  to  the  feet;  they  use  fire  when  you  use  water ;  you  shave  the  beard, 
they  shave  the  head ;  you  move  the  hat,  they  touch  the  breast ;  you  use  the 
lips  in  salutation,  they  touch  the  forehead  and  the  chec-k ;  your  house  looks 
outwards,  their  house  looks  inwards ;  you  go  out  to  take  a  walk,  they  go  up 
to  enjoy  the  fresh  air;  you  drain  your  land,  they  sigh  for  water;  you  bring 
your  daughters  out,  they  keep  their  wives  and  daughters  in  :  your  ladies  go 
barefaced  through  the  streets,  their  ladies  are  always  covered."  * 

The  Oriental  customs  of  to-day  are,  mainly,  the  same  as  those  of  ancient 
times.  It  is  said  by  a  recent  writer  that  "the  Classical  world  lias  passed 
away.  We  must  reproduce  it  if  we  wish  to  see  it  as  it  was."  While 
this  fact  must  be  remembered  in  the  interpretat'on  of  some  New  Testa 
ment  passages,  it  is  nevertheless  true  that  many  ancient  customs  still  exist 
in  their  primitive  integrity.  If  a  knowledge  of  Oriental  customs  is  essential 
to  a  right  understanding'  of  numerous  Scripture  passages,  it  is  a  cause  of 
rejoicing  that  these  customs  are  so  stereotyped  in  their  character  that  we 
have  but  to  visit  the  Bible  lands  of  the  present  day  to  see  the  modes  of  life 
of  patriarchal  times. 

The  design  of  this  volume  is  to  illustrate  the  Bible  by  an  explanation  of  the 

Oriental  customs  to  which  it  refers.     The  Bible  becomes  more  than  ever  a 

r-eal.  book  when  we  can  read  it  understandingly.     While  this  is  eminently 

true  of  its  doctrines,  it  is  also  true  of  its  facts.     A  distinguished  author  has 

*  THE  J->EDJLN  AND  THE  RHINE,  bj  the  EPV.  W.  Graham,  p.  4. 


aptly  said :  "  In  studying  the  Bible  the  Dictionary  of  Things  is  almost  as 
important  as  the  Dictionary  of  Words."  It  is  a  part  of  this  "  Dictionary  of 
Things  "  that  we  propose  to  furnish  in  this  book,  though  not  in  the  form  of 
a  dictionary.  The  texts  illustrated  are  arranged  in  the  order  in  which  they 
occur  in  the  Bible,  and  are  accompanied  by  explanations  of  the  customs  to 
which  they  allude.  This»method  seems  to  be  the  most  natural  for  Bible 
study,  and  is  the  plan  followed  by  Burder,  Rosenmuller,  and  Roberts. 

The  materials  for  a  work  of  this  character  are  more  abundant  now  than 
ever.  Supplementing  the  labors  of  those  who  in  former  days  visited  Egypt 
and  Syria,  travelers  have,  within  a  few  years,  entered  new  regions  and 
brought  to  light  facts  hitherto  unknown.  The  explorations  of  such  men  as 
Botta,  Layard,  Loftus,  and  Smith,  and  the  labors  of  the  Palestine  Exploration 
Societies,  both  of  England  and  America,  have  been  productive  of  rich  results, 
and,  without  doubt,  results  yet  more  valuable  are  to  follow.  The  pick  and 
the  spade  are  to  be  the  humble  instruments  of  illustrating. and  authenti 
cating  the  Word  of  God.  Already,  through  their  agency,  important  dis 
coveries  have  been  made.  Ancient  tablets  covered  with  strange  characters 
have  been  brought  to  light;  by  patient -labor  and  wonderful  ingenuity  these 
characters  have  been  deciphered,  and  made  to  tell  the  secrets  which  for 
ages  they  had  kept  concealed.  The  tombs  of  Egypt,  the  palaces  of  Assyria, 
and  the  royal  records  of  Moab,  have  been  compelled  to  speak,  and  now,  in 
different  languages,  they  bear  testimony  for  God  and  his  truth. 

Of  this  varied  and  valuable  material  we  have  endeavored  to  make  diligent 
use  iu  the  preparation  of  this  volume.  As  it  would  encumber  the  work 
with  multitudinous  notes  of  reference  to  give,  in  every  instance,  the  authority 
for  the  statements  made,  a  list  of  the  principal  authors  consulted  is  appended. 

Should  this  volume  aid  the  student  in  obtaining  a  better  understanding  of 
the  Bible,  the  labor  of  the  writer  will  not  have  been  in  vain. 

MORRISTOWX,  N.  J.,  January  29,  1874. 



IN  addition  to  those  commentaries,  books  of  travel,  and  other  works 
which  are  specially  mentioned  where  they  are  quoted,  the  materials  for  this 
volume  have  been  obtaiced  chiefly  from  the  following  authorities: 

ALFORD,  DR.  HENRY — Greek  Testament.     Four  volumes.     London,  1872. 
ANDERSON,  REV.  JOSEPH — Bible  Light  from  Bible  Lands.     New  York,  18t>6. 
AYRE,  REV.  JOHN — The  Treasury  of  Bible  Knowledge.     London,  1870. 
BINGHAM,   REV.  JOSEPH — Origines   E&lesiasticce.     The    Antiquities   of    the 

Christian  Church.     Two  volumes.     London,  1870. 
BLOOMFIELD,  DR.  S.  T. — Greek  Testament.     Two  volumes.     Ninth  edition. 

London,  1855. 

BONOMI,  JOSEPH — Nineveh  and  its  Palaces.     London,  1865. 
BROWN",  DR.  WILLIAM — Antiquities  of  the  Jews.     London,  1820. 
BURDER,  REV.  SAMUEL — Oriental  Customs.     T\vo  volumes.     Sixth  edition. 

London,  1822. 

BURDER,  REV.  SAMUEL — Oriental  Literature.     Two  volumes.     London,  1822. 
BUSH,  REV.  GEORGE — Illustrations  of  the  Holy  Scriptures.     Philadelphia, 

CALMET — Dictionary  of  the  Holy  Bible,  (Ed.,  Taylor.)    Five  volumes.    Fourth 

edition.     London,  1823. 

CHARDIN,  JOHN — Travels  into  Persia  and  the  East  Indies.    London,  1636. 
FABER,  DR.  G.  S. — The  Origin  of  Pagan  Idolatry,  ascertained  from  Histori 
cal  Testimony  and  Circumstantial  Evidence.     Three  volumes.     London, 

FAIRBAIRN,  Dr.   PATRICK — The  Imperial  Bible  Dictionary.     Two  volumes. 

London,  1864,  1866. 
FAIRBAIRN,    Du.   PATRICK — The   Typology   of    Scripture.      Two   volumes. 

Third  edition.     Philadelphia,  1865. 

FORBES.  JAMES — Oriental  Memoirs.     Four  volumes.     London,  1813. 
GALE,  REV.  TIIEOPHILUS— The  Court  of  the  Gentiles.     Oxford,  1672. 


GODWYX,  DR.  THOMAS — Moses  and  Aaron  ;  or,  The  Civil  find  p]cclesiastical 
Rites  used  by  the  Ancient  Hebrews.  London,  1678. 

GRAHAM,  REV.  WILLIAM— The  Jordan  and  the  Rhine.     London,  1854. 

HACKETT,  Dr.  H.  B. — Illustrations  of  Scripture.     Boston,  1855. 

HARM  KB,  REV.  THOMAS — Observations  on  Various  Passages  of  Scripture. 
(Ed.,  Dr.  Clarke.)  Four  volumes.  Fourth  edition.  London,  1808. 

HEXGSTENBERG,  E.  W.— Egypt  and  the  Books  of  Moses.  Translated  by 
Prof.  Bobbins.  Andover,  1 843. 

HERZOG,  DR.— Real-Encykldpadie.  (Twenty-two  volumes.)  Hamburg, 
Stuttgart,  and  Gotba,  1854-1868. 

JAHN— Biblical  Archaeology.  Translated  by  Prof.  Upliam.  Fifth  edition. 
New  York,  1866. 

JAMIESON.  REV.  ROBERT — Eastern  Manners  illustrative  of  Old  Testament 
History.  Two  volumes.  Edinburgh,  1836,  1838. 

JENNINGS,  DR.  DAVID — Jewish  Antiquities.     Tenth  edition.     London,  1839. 

JOWETT,  REV.  W. — Christian  Researches  in  Syria  and  the  Holy  Laud.  Bos 
ton,  1826. 

KEIL,  DR.  KARL  FRIED  RICH — Handbuch  der  biblischen  Archaologie.  (Twi 
volumes.)  Frankfurt-am-Main  and  Erlangen,  1858,  1859. 

KITTO,  DR.  JOHN — A  Cyclopedia  of  Biblical  Literature,  (Ed.,  Dr.  Alexander.) 
Three  volumes.  Third  edition.  Philadelphia.  1866. 

KITTO.  DR.  JOHN — Daily  Bible  Illustrations.  Eight  volumes.  New  York,  1867. 

KURTZ,  DR.  J.  H.— Sacrificial  Worship  of  the  Old  Testament.  Translated 
by  Martin.  Edinburgh,  1873.  (Clark's  Foreign  Theological  Library.) 

LAX?;.  E.  W. — An  Account  of  the  Manners  and  Customs  of  the  Modern 
Egyptians.  Two  volumes.  Third  edition.  London,  1842. 

LA  YARD,  H.  A. — Nineveh  and  its  Remains.     Two  volumes.     London,  1849. 

LAYARD,  H.  A. — Monuments  of  Nineveh.     London,  1849. 

LAYARD,  H.  A. — Discoveries  in  the  Ruins  of  Nineveh  and  Babylon.  Lon 
don,  1853. 

LAYARD,  H.  A. — Monuments  of  Nineveh.     Second  series.     London,  1853. 

LIGHTFOOT,  DR.  JOHN — Wonts,  (Ed.,  Pitman.)  Twelve  volumes.  London, 

LOFTUS,  W.  K. — Travels  and  Researches  in  Chaldasa  and  Susiana.  New 
York,  1857. 

MADDEX,  F.  W.— History  of  Jewish  Coinage,  and  of  Money  in  the  Old  and 
New  Testament.  London,  1864. 

MAIMONIDES — The  Reasons  of  the  Laws  of  Moses.  Translated  by  Dr.  Town- 
ley.  London,  1827. 

MATJNDRELL,  HENRY — A  Journey  from  Aleppo  to  Jerusalem  at  Easter, 
A.  D.  1697.  London,  1810.  (This  edition  contains  PITTS'  Religion  and 
Manners  of  the  Mahometans,  to  which  we  refer  in  several  instances.) 


M'CLINTOCK  AND  STRONG— Cyclopaedia  of  Biblical,  Theological,  and  Eccles'as- 

tical  Literature.      Five  volumes,  [A  to  Me.]     New  York,  1867-1873. 

[Not  yet  completed.]  t 

MEYER,  JOHANN  FRIEDRICH— Bibeldeutungen.     Frankfurt-am-Main,  1812. 
UICH^LIS,  J.  D.— Commentaries  on  the   Laws  of  Moses.    Four  volumes. 

London,  1814. 
MORIER,  JAMES— Second  Journey  through  Persia,  Armenia,  and  Asia  Minor. 

London,  1818. 
MORRISON,  WALTER  (Editor)— The  Recovery  of  Jerusalem.     (Palestine  Ex- 

ploration  Fund.)     New  York,  1871. 

NICHOLS,  T.  A.— Handy-Book  of  the  British  Museum.    London,  1870. 
PALMER,  E.  H.— The  Desert  of  the  Exodus.     Two  volumes.     Cambridge, 

(England,)  1871. 
PORTER,  REV.  J.  L.— The  Giant  Cities  of  Bashan  and  Syria's  Holy  Places. 

New  York,  1866. 
KAWLINSON,    G.— The   History   of    Herodotus.    Four  volumes.      London, 

RAWLINSON,  G. — The  Five  Great  Monarchies  of  the  Ancient  Eastern  "World. 

Three  volumes.     Second  edition.     London,  1871. 

ROBERTS,  REV.  J.— Oriental  Illustrations  of  the  Sacred  Scriptures.     Lon 
don,  1844. 
ROBINSON,  DR.   E. — Biblical  Researches   in  Palestine  and  in  the  Adjacent 

Regions.     Three  volumes.     Second  edition.     Boston,  1856. 
ROGERS,  Miss  MARY  E.— Domestic  Life  in  Palestine.     Cincinnati,  1869. 
ROSENMULLER,  E.  F.  K.— Das  alte  und  neue  Morgenland.     (Six  volumes.) 

Leipzig,  1818-1820. 
SHARPE,  SAMUEL— Texts  from  the  Holy  Bible  explained  by  the  Help  of  the 

Ancient  Monuments.     Second  edition.     London,  1869. 
SHAW,  DR.  THOMAS — Travels ;  or,  Observations  relating  to  Several  Parts  of 

Barbary  and  the  Levant.     Second  edition.     London,  1757. 
SMITH,  DR.  WILLIAM— A  Dictionary  of  Greek  and  Roman  Antiquities.  Third 

American  edition.     New  York,  1855. 

SMITH,  DR.  WILLIAM— A  Dictionary  of  the  Bible.    Three  volumes.    Bos 
ton,  1863. 
THOMSON,  DR.  W.  M.— The  Land  and  the  Book.    Two  volumes.    New  York, 

WILKINSON,  J.  G.— Manners  and  Customs  of  the  Ancient  Egyptians.    Three 

volumes.     London,  1837. 
WILKINSON,  J.  G.— A  Second  Series  of  the  Manners  and  Customs  of  the 

Ancient  Egyptians.     Three  volumes.     London,  1841. 
WINER,  DR.   G.  B.—  Biblisches   Reahvcerterbuch.      (Two  volumes.    Third 

edition.)     Leipzig,  1847,  1848. 


No.  Page. 

Oriental  Street  Scene,  (Front.). .  2 

1.  Babylonian  Brick 14 

2.  The  name  Pharaoh,  (Pa-ouro)  15 

3.  Oriental  Bowing 17 

4.  City  Gate 20 

5.  Weighing  Money 23 

6.  Lion- weight.  From  Khorsabad  24 

7.  At  the  Well 27 

8.  Nose-rings  of  Modern  Egypt  29 

9.  Assyrian  and  Egyptian  Brace 

lets 30 

10.  Teraphim 38 

11.  Camels'  Furniture 40 

12.  Egyptian  Ear-ring  Amulets .  42 

13.  A  Caravan 44 

14.  Egyptian  Barbers 47 

15.  Egyptian  Rings  and  Signets  48 

16.  Egyptian  Granary 49 

1 7.  Modern  Egyptians  at  Dinner.  51 

18.  Egyptian  Divining  Cup 53 

19.  Different  Stages  of  Embalming  57 

20.  Ancient    Egyptian    Funeral 

Procession *. 59 

21.  Shoes  Taken  Off 61 

22.  Egyptian  Brick 62 

23.  Kneading  Trough 65 

24.  Egyptian  War-chariot 66 

25.  Calf  Idol 75 

26.  The  Tabernacle,  according  to 

Paine 77 

27.  Tabernacle  Curtains 78 

28.  Table  of  Show-bread 80 

29.  Golden  Candlestick 81 

30.  Altar  of  Incense  ..  ,81 

No.  Page 

31.  Altar  of  Burnt-offering,   ac 

cording  to  Meyer 82 

32.  High-Priest  in  his  Robes  ...     85 

33.  Arab  Oven 89 

34.  Egyptian  Standards 98 

35.  The  Staff  of  Inheritance 99 

36.  Egyptian  Bedsteads 104 

37.  Ancient  Axes 109 

33.  The  Outer  Garment 113 

39.  Ancient  Egyptians  Threshing  114 

40.  Egyptian  God  Horus 117 

41.  Assyrian  King  placing  Foot 

on  the  Neck  of  an  Enemy. .   119 

42.  Symbolic  Tree 121 

43.  Egyptian  Wooden  Lock  and 

Key.... 122 

44.  Camels'  Ornaments 125 

45.  Dagon 126 

46.  Outer  Garment  of  Women..   130 

47.  Talismanic  Images 132 

48.  Ancient  Helmets 133 

49.  Egyptian  Cuirass 133 

50.  Greave 134 

51.  Egyptian  Large  Shield 135 

52.  Assyrian  Large  Shield 135 

53.  Egyptian  Swords 136 

54.  Egyptian  Slinger 137 

55.  Egyptian  Armlets 142 

56.  Sistrum 143 

57.  Solomon's  Temple,  Front  Ele 

vation 155 

58.  Solomon's  Temple,  West  End  155 

59.  Solomon's   Temple,    Interior 

View.     (From  Paine) 155 



No.                                                              Page 
60    Running  Footman     ....      162 


61.  Ancient  Military  Girdles.  ..   164 
62    Egyptian  Si°'net  Rin°'S       .      166 



63.  Seal,  with  Frame  166 


64   The  Fly-God                             167 


65.  Modern  Syrian   House  —  In 
terior,  showing  the  Divan..   168 
66.  Mode  of  Washing  Hands.  .  .   170 
67    Amphorre  '                         ...   171 



68.  Two  styles  of  Eye-Painting..   175 
69  Kohl  Boxes  and  Implements.   176 
70.  Assyrian  and  Egyptian  Quiv 
ers  and  Bows                         178 



71.  Blinding  a  Prisoner  185 

72.  Bronze  Fetters  from  Nineveh  .  185 
73.  Walls  and  Towers,  from  Bab 
ylonian  Coins                  ...   1  88 


74.  Towers  in  the  Desert  190 
75    Persian  Daric                 .      ..192 


76.  The  Royal  Cup-bearer  194 

77.  Ground-plan  of  House.  .  .    .   198 


78.  Court  of  a  House,  Damascus.  199 
79.  Convex  Shield  210 


80.  Ancient  Oil  Presses  214 
81.  Impressions  of  Seals  215 
82.  Watered  Garden  217 
83    Anointin'r  a  Guest                .    219 


84.  Assyrian    Triangular    Lyre. 
(Koyunjik)                               221 


85.   Assyrian    Lyre,     with    Ten 
strings    (Khorsabad)             222 


86.   Indian  Serpent-Charmers.  .  .    225 
87.  Ancient  Egyptian  Snares.  .  .    228 
88.  Egyptian  Offerings  for  the 
Dead  230 


89.   Eunuch    Playing    on    Cym 
bals.     (Koyunjik)  234 
90    Lot-Compass       .  .                  .   238 


91.  Egyptian  Mortar  240 


92.  Pitching  Tents  243 
93.  Neck-Chains,   Assyrian  and 
Ejrvntlfcn  .  .                          .246 



Litter  or  Palanquin,  Egyptian  247 

Ancient  Egyptian  Anklets.  250 

Assyrian  Nets  for  the  Hair.  250 

"Houses  of  the  Soul  " 252 

Head-dress 253 

Ancient  Egyptian  mode  of 

Wearing  the  Hair 254 

Assyrian  Skin-boat 257 

Corinthian  Tomb  at  Petra. .  260 
Plan  of  the    Tomb  of  the 

Kings,  at  Jerusalem 260 

Keys  Carried  on  the  Shoulder  263 
Threshing  with  the  Mowrej, 

Modern  Egypt 265 

Parchment  Scroll 267 

Men  Bridled 268 

Nebo.      Statue    in    British 

Museum 271 

Egyptian  mode  of  Carrying 

Children 273 

The  Arm  made  Bare 274 

Perfume  Sprinkler 275 

Egyptian   Satrap  Worship 
ing  the  Sun 277 

Pigeon  Towers  in  Persia  . .  278 

Hands  on  the  Head 281 

Egyptian  Bellows 282 

Egyptian  Potters 285 

Ceiling  of  Palace  at  Konieh.  287 

Amon 292 

Submission 294 

Egyptian  Battle-axes 294 

Assyrian  Clay  Tablets 296 

Assault  on  a  City — Artifi 
cial  Mount 297 

Battering-rams 298 

Inkhorn 301 

Assyrian  Fringed  Dress. . .  307 

Babylonian  Harp 311 

Musician  Playing  the  Dulci 
mer,  Assyrian 312 

Assyrian  Drinking-scene  .  .  323 



No.  Pai?e 

128.  Assyrian  War-chariot  of  the 

Early  Period.  (Nimrud)..   324 

129.  Head    of  a    Chariot-horse, 

with  Bel's 328 

130    Ancient  Egyptian  Fullers  at 

Work.    .'. 329 

131.  Chaldean  Diviner 331 

132.  Ancient  Lamp 336 

133.  Ancient  Lamp-stand    336 

134.  Rolling  up  a  Bed 343 

135.  Ancient  Skin-bottles 344 

136.  Woman  giving  Drink  to  a 

Child 344 

137.  Ancient  Shoe 346 

138.  Assarion 348 

139.  Denarius  of  Tiberius  Cesar.  357 

140.  Half-shekel.      Ascribed   to 

Simon  Maccabeus 359 

141.  Wine-press,  Ancient  Egyp 

tian  . 362 

142.  Phylacteries   for  the  Head 

and  Arm 367 

143.  Sheik's  Tomb 371 

144.  Ground-plan     of     Herod's 

Temple 372 

145.  Sectionof  Eastern  Hand-mill  375 

No.  Pape 

146.  Women  at  the  Mill 376 

147.  Marriage  Procession 377 

148.  Torches 377 

149.  Alabastra 380 

150.  Reclining  at  Table 382 

151.  Buffeting  the  Accused 390 

152.  Door  of  the  Tomb 396 

153.  Writing  Tablets 405 

154.  Diagram  of  Caravanserai. .  406 
Interior  of  Vizir  Khan  at 

155.  Aleppo 407 

156.  Women  Drawing  Water...  424 

157.  Sheep-fold 428 

158.  Women    Mourning   at   the 

Grave 433 

159.  Lantern 435 

160.  Housetop 440 

161.  Sandal 442 

162.  In  the  Stocks 445 

1 63.  Diana  of  Ephesus 451 

164.  Enemies  Trampled  on 459 

165.  Ancient  Foot-race 466 

166.  Head     Dress     of     Roman 

Empress    469 

167.  Plaited    Hair     of     Roman 

Lady 469 






IV,  20,  21.  Adah  bare  Jabal :  he  was  the  father  of  such  as  dwell 
in  tents,  and  of  such  as  have  cattle.  And  his  brother's  name 
was  Jubal :  he  was  the  father  of  all  such  as  handle  the  harp 
and  organ. 

IN  the  East  the  originator  of  any  custom  is  frequently  spoken  of  as  the 
"  father"  of  that  custom;  so,  also,  a  man  is  often  described  by  represent 
ing  him  to  be  the  "father"  of  some  peculiarity  which  distinguishes  him 
from  others.  A  man  of  very  long  beard  is  called  "the  father  of  a  beard." 
One  of  the  Arabs  who  accompanied  Palmer  in  his  journey  across  the  desert 
of  the  Exodus  was  called  "the  father  of  the  top-knot,"  because  the  lock  of 
hair  on  top  of  his  head  was  of  unusual  size.  A  celebrated  Arab  chief  was 
called  "the  father  of  the  ostrich."  because  of  the  fleetness  of  the  favorite 
horse  which  he  rode.  Dr.  Thomson  svas  once  called  by  the  mischievous 
young  Arabs  "the  father  of  a  saucepan,"  because  they  fancied  that  his  black 
hat  resembled  that  culinary  utensil.  When  Loftus  was  in  Chaldea  his  negro 
cook  on  one  occasion  killed  two  lion  cubs.  The  Arabs,  from  that  time  forth, 
saluted  him  as  "Abu  Seba'in,"  that  is,  "the  father  of  the  two  lions." 

The  name  "  father  "  is  also  applied  to  beasts  or  birds,  and  even  to  inani 
mate  things.  In  Egypt  the  kite  is  sometimes  called  "  the  father  of  the  air," 
because  of  its  power  of  flight.  An  African  city  was  called  Boo  Hadgcvr, 
"  the  father  of  stone  " — that  is,  a  stony  city.  There  is  a  Turkish  coin  called 
"the  father  of  a  cannon,"  because  of  the  representation  of  a  cannon  which 
is  upon  it. 

In  like  manner  Jabal  was  called  "  the  father  of  such  as  dwell  in  tents," 
because  he  was  probably  the  inventor  of  tents;  and  Jubal,  "  the  father  of  all 
such  as  handle  the  harp  and  organ,"  because  he  invented  those  instruments. 

This  USJB  of  the  term  "  father  "  is  found,  also,  in  other  parts  of  the  Bible. 




In  lea.  ix,  6,  the  Messiah  is  called  "  the  everlasting  Father,"  or  "  the  Father  of 
eternity;  "  that  is,  he  is  the  giver  of  eternal  life;  in  John  viii,  44,  the  devil  is 
called  "the  father  of  lies ;  "  in  Rom.  iv,  12,  Abraham  is  said  to  be  "the  father 
of  circumcision;"  in  2  Cor.  i,  3,  God  is  called  "the  father  of  mercies;'' 
and  in  Eph.  i,  17,  "the  father  of  glory."  There  is  a  corresponding  use  of 
the  word  children.  See  note  on  Matt.  ix.  1 5. 


XI,  3.  They  said  one  to  another,  Go  to,  let  us  make  brick  and 
burn  them  thoroughly.  And  they  had  brick  for  stone,  and 
slime  had  they  for  mortar. 

1.  The  soil  of  Babylonia  is  an  alluvial  deposit,  rich  and  tenacious,  and  well 
adapted  for  brick-making.  While  many  of  the  bricks  of  that  country  were 

merely  sun-dried,  others  were  burned,  as 
were  those  in  the  tower  of  Babel.  Fire- 
burnt  bricks  were  sometimes  laid  as  an 
outer  covering  to  walls  of  sun-dried 
brick.  The  finest  quality  of  bricks  was 
of  a  yellow  color,  resembling  our  fire- 
l>ricks:  another  very  hard  kind  was  of  a 
dark  blue;  the  commoner  and  coarser 
sorts  were  pink  or  red. 

Amid  the  ruins  of  Babylonia  ancient 
bricks   have  been   discovered,   in   large 
quantities,  stamped  with  inscriptions  of 
The  ordinary  size  of  these  bricks  is  twelve 
At  the  corners 


givat  value  to  the  archaeologist, 

to  fourteen  inches  square,  and  three  to  four  inches  thick. 

of  buildings  half- bricks  were  used  irf  the  alternate  rows. 

The  "slime"  here  spoken  of  is  bitumen,  which  is  still  found  bubbling 
from  the  ground  in  the  neighborhood  of  ancient  Babylon,  where  it  is  now 
used  for  mortar,  as  in  former  times.     It  is  also  found  in  some  parts  of  Pales 
tine.     At  Hasbeiya,  near  the  source  of  the  Jordan,  there  are  wells  or  pits 
dug,  in  which  bitumen  collects,  exuding  from  the  crevices  in  the  rocks      The 
slime-pits"  mentioned  in  Gen.  xiv,  10,  may  have  been  similar  to  these. 
They  were  near  the  Dead  Sea,  where  bitumen  is  still  to  be  found 
Loftus  (Travels  in  Chaldea  and  Susiana,  p.  31)  approves  the  suggestion 
Captain  Newbold,  that  the  ancient  Babylonians  in  some  instances  burned 
tieir  bricks  in  the  walls  of  their  buildings,  to  render  them  more  durable 
»  rude  walls,  erected  with  unburnt  brick,  cemented  with  hot  bitumen,  are 
supposed  to. have  been  exposed  to  the  action  of  a  furnace  heat  until  thev 
became  a  solid  vitrified  mass.     This  is  indeed  burning  ""  and 
it  may  have  been  the  method  which  the  Babel-builders  intended  to*  pursue 

Genesis.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  15 

had  they  been  permitted  to  finish  their  tower ;   as  they  said,  according  to 
the  marginal  reading,  "  Let  us  make  brick,  and  burn  them  to  a  burning." 


XII,  15.    The  princes  also  of  Pharaoh  saw  her. 

Pharaoh  is  the  common  title  of  the  native  Egyptian  kings 
mentioned  in  Scripture.  The  word  itself  does  not  mean  king, 
as  was  formerly  supposed ;  recent  investigations  have  satisfied 
Egyptologists  that  it  means  the  sun.  This  title  was  given  to 
the  king  because  he  was  considered  the  representative  on  earth 
of  the  God  RA,  or  the  sun.  It  is  difficult  to  tell  what  partic 
ular  Pharaoh  or  king  is  referred  to  here.  2.— PA-OURO. 


XIV,  16.     And  also  brought  again  his  brother  Lot. 

In  chapter  xi,  31  Lot  is  said  to  be  the  nephew,  not  the  brother,  of 
Abram.  In  like  manner  Jacob  told  Kachel  (Gen.  xxix,  12)  that  he  was 
her  father's  brother;  whereas,  according  to  Gen.  xxviii,  5,  he  was  the 
son  of  her  father's  sister;  that  is,  her  father's  nephew.  This  elastic  use 
of  the  word  brother  is  quite  common  in  the  East,  however  strange  it 
may  seem  to  us;  yet  we  have  a  usage  somewhat  similar  in  the  application  of 
the  term  to  persons  not  in  any  way  related  to  us.  We  call  fellow-country 
men,  or  fellow-craftsmen,  or  fellow- churchmen,  brothers.  The  Orientals 
apply  the  term  to  their  kinsmen  of  whatever  relation. 


XIV,  22.     And  Abram  said  to  the  king  of  Sodom,   I  have  lift  up 
mine  hand  unto  the  Lord,  the  most  high  God,  the  possessor  of 
heaven   and   earth. 

Tins  was  Abram'a  method  of  taking  a  solemn  oath ;  a  mode  still 
practiced  in  the  East,  and  to  some  extent  in  the  West.  It  is  said  in  Isa. 
Ixii,  8,  "  The  Lord  hath  sworn  by  his  right  hand."  See  also  Dan.  xii,  7  ; 
Rev.  x,  5,  6;  the  note  on  Prov.  xi,  21;  and  also  on  E/ek.  xxi,  14. 


XV,  17.    And  it  came  to   pass,  that,   when  the  sun  went  down, 
and    it    was    dark,   behold    a    smoking    furnace,   and   a   burning 
lamp  that  passed   between   those   pieces. 

The  "  burning  lamp  "  is  supposed  to  have  been  an  emblem  of  the  Divine 
presence,  as  fire  is  represented  to  be  in  other  parts  of  the  Scriptures. 
Roberts  says  that  m  India  the  burning  lamp  or  fire  is  still  used  in  confirma 
tion  of  a  covenant.  If  one's  promise  is  doubted  he  will  point  to  the  flame 
of  the  lamp,  saying,  "That  is  the  witness."  The  marriages  of  the  East 
Indian  gods  arid  demi-gods  are  described  as  being  performed  in  the  presence 

16  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 

of  the  God  of  fire;  and  it  is  to  this  day  a  general  practice  at  the  celebration 
of  a  marriage  to  have  fire  as  a  witness  of  the  transaction.  ';  Fire  is  the 
witness  of  their  covenant,  and,  if  they  break  it,  fire  will  be  their  destruction." 
—  Orient.  Illus.,  p.  21. 


XVI,  13.  And.  she  called  the  name  of  the  Lord  that  spake  unto 
her,  Thou  God  seest  me. 

One  of  the  most  prevalent  superstitions  in  Egypt  was  connected  with  the 
religion  of  names.  The  Egyptians  gave  to  each  of  their  gods  a  name  in 
dicative  of  specific  office  and  attributes.  It  was  thus  perfectly  natural  that 
Hagar,  who  was  an  Egyptian,  should  give  a  title  of  honor  to  Him  who  ap 
peared  to  her  in  the  wilderness.  Some  suppose  that  the  Israelites  were  in 
fluenced  by  this  superstition  during  their  long  bondage  in  Egypt,  and  that  it 
is  to  this  that  Moses  refers  in  Exod.  hi,  13 ;  and,  further,  that  out  of  indul 
gence  to  this  weakness  God  was  pleased  to  give  himself  a  name — one  ex 
pressive  of  his  eternal  self-existence,  Exod.  iii,  14.  This  ancient  Egyptian 
custom  found  its  way  to  other  nations.  Zechariah,  alluding  to  this,  speaks 
of  the  time  when  "there  shall  be  one  Lord,  and  his  name  one."  Zech.  xiv.  9. 

XVIII,  1.     And  he  sat  in  the  tent  door  in  the  heat  of  the  day. 

1.  The  "  door  of  the  tent"  is  a  fold  of  the  lower  part   of  the  tent  which 
is  fastened  by  a  loop  to  the  post  near  by.     It,  may  thus  be  opened  or  closed 
at  pleasure.     For   the  sake  of  light  and  air,  it  is  generally  thrown   back 
during  the  day. 

2.  Noon  is  the  hour  of  rest  among  the  Orientals.     When  the  sun  is  at  its 
height  the  wind  often  becomes  softer  and  the  heat  more  oppressive.     Then 
the  dwellers  in  tents  may  be  seen   sitting  "  in  the  door."  or  reclining  in  the 
shade  of  the  tent.     It  is  also  the  hour  for  dinner.     See  Gen.  xliii,  16,  25. 
Some  travelers  say  that  the  Arabs  eat  by  the  door  of  the  tent  in  order  to 
notice  the  stranger  passing  by,  and  to  invite  him  to  eat  with  them.     In  the 
case  mentioned  in  the  text  Abraham  had  probably  dined,  and  was  resting 
after  dinner. 


XVIII,  2,  3.  And  when  he  saw  them,  he  ran  to  meet  them  from 
the  tent  door,  and  bowed  himself  toward  the  ground,  and  said, 
My  Lord,  if  now  I  have  found  favor  in  thy  sight,  pass  not  away, 
I  pray  thee,  from  thy  servant. 

1.  There  are  different  modes  of  bowing  in  the  East.  In  this  case  the  word 
used  (sliachali)  denotes  complete  prostration  of  the  body.  In  this  the 
person  falls  upon  the  knees,  and  then  gradually  inclines  the  body  until  the 
head  touches  the  ground.  See  also  Gen.  xxiii,  7,  12;  xlii,  6;  xliii,  26. 




2.  There  is  iu  tins  text  a  beautiful  illustration  of  Oriental  hospitality.  The 
company  of  the  travelers  is  solicited  as  a  personal  favor  to  the  host,  and  all 
4«he  resources  of  thees- 

.  :       '•:. 

tablishment  are  used 
for  their  entertainment. 
See  Gen.  xix,  2,  3; 
Judges  vi,  18;  xiii,  15  ; 
Job  xxxi,  32.  Modern 
travelers  often  refer  to 
the  earnestness  with 
which  this  hospitality 
is  urged  upon  them  at 
the  present  day.  It  is 
not  always,  however, 
to  be  regarded  as  un 
selfish  ;  in  many  in 
stances  a  return  be 
ing  expected  from  the 
traveler  who  is  thus 
entertained.  A  recent 
writer  says,  "  Arabs 
are  still  as  fond  as 
ever  of  exercising  the 
virtue  of  hospitality. 
As  they  practice  it, 
it  is  a  lucrative  spec 
ulation.  The  Bedawi  sheikh,  knowing  that  he  must  not  nowadays  expect 
to  entertain  angels  unawares,  takes  a  special  care  to  entertain  only  such 
as  can  pay  a  round  sum  for  the  accommodation,  or  give  their  host  a  good 
dinner  in  return.  The  casual  and  impecunious  stranger  may,  it  is  true, 
claim  the  traditional  three  days'  board  and  lodging;  but  he  must  be  content 
with  the  scraps  '  that  fall  from  the  rich  man's  table,'  and  prepare  to  hear 
very  outspoken  hints  of  the  undesirability  of  his  presence." — PALMER'S 
Desert  of  the  Exodus,  p.  486 


XVIII,  4.  Let  a  little  water,  I  pray  you,  be  fetched,  and  wash 
your  feet,  and  rest  yourselves  under  the  tree. 

Where  the  soil  is  dry  and  dusty,  and  the  feet  shod  with  sandals,  frequent 
washing  of  the  feet  becomes  not  only  a  luxury,  but  a  necessity  for  comfort  and 
health.  It  is  as  much  a  part  of  hospitality,  under  these  circumstances,  for  a 
host  to  see  that  his  guests'  feet  are  washed,  as  it  is  to  provide  them  with 

8. — ORIENTAL  BOWING.   (See  p.  16.) 

18  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 

food,  or  to  furnish  them  a  place  for  repose.  See  Gen.  xxiv,  32.  The  steward 
of  Joseph  gave  to  Joseph's  brethren  water  for  their  feet.  Gen.  xliii,  24. 
Among  the  ancient  Egyptians  the  basins  kept  in  the  houses  of  the  rich  for 
this  purpose  were  sometimes  of  gold. 

To  this  custom  of  feet-washing  the  Saviour  refers  when  he  mildly  reproves 
Simon  the  Pharisee,  at  whose  house  he  was  a  guest,  for  neglecting  to  give 
him  water  for  this  purpose.  Luke  vii,  44.  Paul,  when  writing  to  Tin  othy 
concerning  the  qualifications  necessary  for  the  aged  widows  who  are  to  be 
recipients  of  the  charity  of  the  Church,  names  this  among  others:  "if  she 
have  washed  the  saints'  feet."  1  Tim.  v,  10.  This  work  was  the  duty  of  a 
servant,  (see  1  Sam.  xxv,  41 ;)  and  it  is  this  fact  which  gives  force  to  the 
beautiful  symbolic  action  of  our  Lord,  as  recorded  in  John  xiii,  4-15.  The 
Master  of  all  became  a  servant  to  all. 

Feet  were  washed  on  returning  from  a  journey  and  on  retiring  to  bed. 
See  Gen.  xix,  2  ;  2  Sam.  xi,  8;  Sol.  Song  v,  3. 


XVIII,  6.  And  Abraham  hastened  into  the  tent  unto  Sarah, 
and  said,  Make  ready  quickly  three  measures  of  fine  meal, 
knead  it,  and  make  cakes  upon  the  hearth. 

1.  Bread  in  the  East  is  made  from  wheat  or  barley,  rye  being  but  little 
cultivated.     The  "fine  meal"  here  spoken  of  is  wheat  flour  finely  sifted,  and 
is  considered  very  choice. 

2.  The  "three  measures"  were  equal  to  an  ephah,  which  is  supposed  to 
have  contained  a  little  less  than  a  bushel.     It  was  an  ordinary  quantity  for 
baking.     See  Judges  vi,    19;    1  Sam.  i,   24;    Matt,  xiii,  33.     The  seah  or 
"measure"  is  also  mentioned  in  2  Kings  vii,  1,  1G. 

3.  From,  the  haste  with  which  this  bread  was  prepared  it  was  evidently 
unleavened.     The  flour  and  water  were  hastily  mixed,  and  the  thin  dough 
was  either  laid  on  heated  stones,  where  the  cakes  would  soon  bake,  or  the 
"hearth"  in  the  text  was  a  smooth  spot  of  ground  on  which  fire  had  been 
kindled  and  the  embers  brushed  off,  when  the  dough  was  placed  on  the 
ground  and  the  embers  raked  over   it.    In   e  ther   way  the   bread   would 
soon  be  ready  for  the  guests.     See  also  1  Kings  xvii,  12,  13;  xix,  6. 

Palmer,  while  visiting  the  outlying  districts  of  Sinai,  found,  upon  the 
watershed  of  Wady  el-Hebeibeh,  the  remains  of  a  large  and  evidently 
ancient  encampment.  "The  small  stones  which  formerly  served,  as  they 
do  in  the  present  day,  for  hearths,  in  many  places  still  showed  signs  of  the 
aciion  of  fire,  and  on  digging  beneath  the  surface  we  found  pieces  of  char 
coal  in  great  abundance." — Desert  of  the  Exodus,  p.  258.  What  gives  peculiar 
interest  to  this  discovery  is  the  fact  that  Mr.  Palmer  thinks  that  he  here 
discovered  the  remains  of  the  ancient  Israel itish  camp  at  Kibroth-Hatta- 

Genesis.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  19 

avah.  A  detail  of  the  reaconing  by  which  he  reaches  this  conclusion  would 
be  out  of  place  here.  The  curious  reader  is  referred  to  Palmer's  interesting 
work,  pp.  260,  312,  507,  508. 


XVIII,  7.    Abraham  ran   unto  the    herd,   and.   fetched   a  calf  .  . 
and  gave  it  unto  a  young   man  ;   and  he    hasted  to  dress  it. 

1.  The  primitive  manner  in  which  Abraham  and  Sarah  personally  attended 
to  the  wants  of  their  guests,  finds  illustration  in  what  Dr.  Shaw  says  of  the 
Arab  chieftains  in  Barbary.     There  the  greatest  prince  is  not  ashamed  to 
bring  a  lamb  from  the  flock  arid  kill  it,  while  the  princess,  his  wife,  prepares 
the  fire  and  cooks  it. 

2.  This  meat  was  cooked  as  soon  as  the  animal  was  killed,  in  accordance 
with  the  oriental  usage.     A  common  method  of  preparing  a  hasty  meal 
among  the  Arabs  is  to  cut  up  the  meat  into  small  pieces,  run  them  on  small 
spits  or  skewers,  and  broil  them  over  the  fire. 


XVIII,  8.  And  he  took  butter,  and  milk,  and  the  calf  which  he 
had  dressed,  and  set  it  before  them;  and  he  stood  by  them 
under  the  tree,  and  they  did  eat 

1.  The   word  here  rendered   butter  (chemah)  is  said  usually   to  signify 
curdled  milk.     It  is  also  supposed  that  it  was  this  which  Jael  gave  to  Sisera 
"in  a  lordly  dish."  Judges  v.  25.     It  is  at  this  day  frequently  used  in  east 
ern  countries  under  the  name  of  kben. 

2.  A  description  of  an  Arab  feast,   as  given  by  modern  travelers,  will 
illustrate  the  mode  of  preparing  and  eating  food.     The  meat  is  boiled  with 
camel's  milk,   and  with  wheat  which  has  been  previously  boiled  and  then 
dried  in  the  sun.     It  is  served  up  -in  a  large  wooden  dish,  in  the  center  of 
which  the  boiled  wheat  is  placed,  and  the  meat  around  the  edge.     A  wooden 
bowl  containing  the  melted  fat  of  the  animal  is  pressed  down  in  the  midst 
of  the  boiled  wheat,  and  every  morsel  is  dipped  into  this  melted  fat  before 
being  swallowed.     A  bowl  of  camel's  milk  is  handed  round  after  the  meal. 

It  is  not  certain  that  inilk  was  formerly  used  in  cooking  meat,  as  is  here 
seen  to  be  the  modern  Bedawm  custom. 

3.  It  is  common  still  in  the  East  to  see  travelers  arid  guests  eating  under 
the  shade  of  trees. 


XVIII,  10.    Sarah  heard  it  in  the  tent-door  .    .   .  behind  him. 
This  was  not  the  tent  door  referred  to  in  verse  1,  but  the  partition  separat 
ing  the  women's  part  of  the  tent  from  that  belonging  to  the  men.     Such 
partitions  are  often  seen  in  modern  Bedawm  tents.     For  description  of  these 
tents,  see  note  on  Solomon's  Song  i,  5. 


20  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 


XIX,  I.    And  Lot  sat  in  the  gate  of  Sodom. 

The  gateways  of  walled  cities,  as  well  as  the  open  spaces  near  them,  were 
popular  places  of  resort,  being  vaulted  and  cool,  and  convenient  for  the 
meeting  of  friends,  or  for  a  view  of  strangers,  since  all  who  went  in  or  out 

must  pass  that  way.  They  often  re 
sembled  large  stone  halls,  and  had 
sufficient  area  to  accommodate  large 
assemblages.  There  the  people  as 
sembled  at  the  close  of  the  day  to  tell 
the  news,  and  to  discuss  various  topics 
of  interest.  Thus  it  was  that  Lot  at 
evening  happened  to  be  in  the  city 
gate  when  the  strangers  came  by. 
In  this  position  he  readily  saw  them  as 
th^y  entered.  Allusion  to  this  use  of 
the  gate  may  be  found  in  numerous 
other  passages.  See  Gen.  xxiii,  10; 

xxxiv,  20;  1  Sam.  iv.  13;   Job  xxix,  7;   Psa.  Ixix,  12  ;  cxxvii,  5;   Prov.  5,  21. 
Other  uses  of  the  gate  will  be  noticed  further  on. 


XIX,  4.  But  before  they  lay  down,  the  men  of  the  city,  even 
the  men  of  Sodom,  compassed  the  house  round,  both  old  and 
young,  all  the  people  from  every  quarter. 

In  Eastern  cities  there  are  different  quarters  where  people  live  according 
to  their  nation,  religion,  or  occupation.  These  quarters  are  named  after  the 
occupants:  as  "The  Christian  quarter,"  "The  Jews'  quarter,"  "The 
Franks'  quarter,"  "  The  quarter  of  the  water-carriers,"  and  the  like.  This 
usage  may  have  existed  at  a  very  early  age,  and  if  so,  it  probably  is  re 
ferred  to  in  the  text.  The  merchants  and  tradesmen  of  Sodom  came  from 
the  different  "quarters"  where  they  lived  and  surrounded  Lot's  house. 
There  may  also  be  a  reference  to  this  custom  in  Isa.  xlvii,  15  ;  Ivi,  11.  In 
Jer.  xxxvii,  21,  "  the  bakers'  street"  is  spoken  of. 


XIX,  20.  But  his  wife  looked  back  from  behind  him,  and  she 
became  a  pillar  of  salt. 

1.  Roberts  says,  that  the  expression  "from  behind  him,"  seems  to  imply 
that  she  was  following  her  husband,  which  to  this  day  is  the  custom  in  India. 

2.  He  also  .states  that  when  men  or  women  leave  the  house  they  never 
look  back,  as  "  it  would  be  very  unfortunate."     Should  a  man  on  going  to 


'bis  work  leave  any  thing  which  his  wife  knows  he  will  require,  she  will  not 
call  after  him  lest  he  turn  or  look  back,  but  will  either  take  the  article  her 
self  or  send  it  by  another.  If  a  palankeen  come  up  behind  any  persons 
who  are  walking  in  the  road  they  will  not  look  behind  to  see  it,  but  carefully 
step  a  little  on  one  side  until  it  has  passed,  when  they  will  gratify  their 


XIX,  30.     He  [Lot]  dwelt  in  a  cave,  he  and  his  two  daughters. 

The  country  of  Judea  being  mountainous  and  rocky  is  full  of  caverns. 
Caves  and  clefts  in  the  rock  were  probably  among  the  earliest  dwelling- 
places  of  man.  The  inhabitants  of  Mount  Taurus,  even  to  this  day,  live 
in  caves,  as  do  many  of  the  wandering  shepherds  of  Arabia  Petrea.  Thus 
Lot  found  a  home  for  himself  and  his  daughters.  Some  of  these  caves  are 
of  immense  size,  capable  of  holding  hundreds,  and  even  thousands,  of 
people,  and  might  easily  be  converted  into  strongholds  for  troops.  It  was 
in  this  way  that  the  children  of  Israel  sheltered  themselves  from  the 
Midianites,  (Judges  vi,  2,)  and  from  the  Philistines,  1  Sam.  xiii,  6.  It  was 
thus  that  David,  with  four  hundred  men,  was  concealed  in  the  cave  Adul- 
lam,  (1  Sarn.  xxii,  1,  2,)  and  afterward  with  six  hundred  in  Ziph,  and  in 
Kn-gedi,  1  Sam.  xxiii,  13,  14,  29;  xxiv,  3.  Caves  have  been  common  places 
of  resort  for  the  persecuted  people  of  God  in  all  ages.  See  Heb.  xi,  38. 


XXI,  8.  Abraham  made  a  great  feagt  the  same  day  that  Isaac 
was  weaned. 

It  is  still  customary  in  the  East  to  have  a  festive  gathering  at  the  time 
a  child  is  weaned.  Among  the  Hindoos,  when  the  time  for  weaning  has 
come,  the  event  is  accompanied  with  feasting  and  religious  ceremonies 
during  which  rice  is  formally  presented  to  the  child. 

XXI,  14.     Putting  it  on  her  shoulder. 

It  was  an  ancient  Egyptian  custom  for  the  women  to  carry  burdens  on 
the  shoulder,  and  for  the  men  to  carry  them  on  the  head.  The  women  in 
Palestine,  to  this  day,  carry  the  water  skins  and  earthen  jars  upon  the 
shoulder.  It  was  thus  that  Rebecca  carried  her  water  pitcher.  Gen. 
xxiv,  15.  Sometimes  they  carry  these  jars  on  the  head.  It  is  said  by  some 
writers,  that  in  India  the  women  of  high  rank  carry  the  water  j-irs  on  the 
shoulder,  and  the  common  women  carry  them  on  the  head. 

22  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 

XXII,  3.     Abraham  rose  up  early  ...   and   saddled  his  ass. 

1  The  habit  of  early  rising  is  all  but  universal  in  Palestine.  The  climate 
makes  this  a  necessity  for  the  greater  part  of  the  year,  the  heat  being  s< 
great  that  hard  labor  is  oppressive  a  few  hours  after  sunrise.  At  early 
dawn  laborers  go  to  their  work  and  travelers  start  on  their  journeys. 
Scripture  references  to  this  custom  are  numerous.  See,  for  instance,  Gen. 
xix  2-  xxi  H;  xxviii,  18;  Exod.  xxxiv,  4;  Job  i,  5;  Psa.  Ixiii,  1. 

*2    We  are   not  to  imagine  by  the  term  "saddle"  any  thing  similar  to 
what  we  call  by  that  name.     The  ancient  saddle  was  merely  a  piece 
cloth  thrown  over  the  back  of  the  animal  on  which  the  rider  sat.  See  Matt, 
xxi,  7.     "No  nation  of  antiquity  knew  the  use  of  either  saddles  or  stirrups." 
(GoGUET,  Origin  of  Laws.     Cited  by  BURDER.) 


XXII,  5.     I   and  the  lad  will  go  ...  and  come  again. 

Roberts  says,  that  the  people  of  the  East  never  say,  as  we  do  when  taking 
leave.  "  I  will  go,"  or,  "  I  am  going,"  but,  "  I  go  and  return." 


XXIII,  2.     Abraham    came    to    mourn    for    Sarah,    and  to   weep 
for  her. 

We  shall  have  occasion,  in  noticing  other  passages,  to  refer  to  the  different 
modes  of  manifesting  grief  at  times  of  bereavement ;  it  is  only  necessary  to 
say  here,  that  there  is  in  this  text  an  evident  allusion  to  a  ceremonial  mourn 
ing.  The  word  "  came"  indicates  this.  The  passage  shows  the  antiquity  of 
the  custom  of  formal  manifestation  of  sorrow  in  honor  of  the  dead. 


XXIII    5    6.     The    children    of    Heth    answered    Abraham,    say 
ing   unto    him,    Hear   us,    my    lord:    thou    art    a    mighty    prince 
among    us:    in    the   choice   of    our    sepulehers    bury    thy    dead; 
none  of  us  shall  withhold  from  thee  his  sepulcher,  but  that  t 
mayest  bury  thy  dead. 

We  have  in  the  interesting  narrative  of  this  business  transaction  an  exact 
representation  of  the  Oriental  mode  of  trafficking.  Abraham,  a  great  prince, 
but  a  stranger,  wishes  to  buy  a  piece  of  land  for  a  family  burial  place.  . 
makes  the  proposition  to  those  members  of  the  tribe  of  Hittites  in  whose 
territory  the  land  lies.  They  respond  by  offering  him  the  use  of  any  one  of 
their  own  sepulehers  which  he  may  select.  This  generosity,  however,  is  a 
mere  ceremony  preliminary  to  driving  a  bargain  in  which  they  mean  to  make 
as  much  as  possible  out  of  the  rich  stranger.  So,  also,  when  Ephron  is 




approached  in  reference  to  selling  the  lot  which  Abraham  desires,  he  says, 
(v,  11,)  "Nay,  my  lord,  hear  me:  the  field  give  I  thee,  and  the  cave  that  is 
therein,  I  give  it  thee;  in  the  presence  of  the  sons  of  my  people  give  I  it 
thee:  bury  thy  dead."  This  seems  to  be  a  wonderful  liberality  on  the  part 
of  this  Hittite,  but  he  does  not  expect  that  his  offer  will  be  accepted ;  or, 
if  actually  accepted,  he  expects  in  return  a  present  that  shall  be  worth  more 
than  his  gift. 


XXIII,  8.     Entreat  for  me  to  Ephron  the  son  of  Zohar. 

Abraham  does  not  go  directly  to  Ephron,  but  he  gets  some  of  the  Hittites 
to  plead  for  him.  No  business  of  importance  can  to  this  day  be  transacted 
in  the  East  without  middlemen. 


XXIII,  16.  Abraham  hearkened  unto  Ephron;  and  Abraham 
weighed  to  Ephron  the  silver,  which  he  had  named  in  the 
audience  of  the  sons  of  Heth,  four  hundred  shekels  of  silver, 
current  money  with  the  merchant. 

1.  The  Hebrews  probably  learned  the  use  of  metallic  money  from  the 
Phenicians,  among  whom  their  ancestors  dwelt,  and  who  are  said  to  have 
been  the  inventors  of  silver  money.  Other  nations  for  a  long  time  made 
oxen  and  sheep  the  standard  of  value.  Silver  was  the  metal  at  first  gen 
erally  used  for  currency,  gold  being  kept  for  articles  of  jewelry.  Gold  money 
is  first  men 
tioned  i  n  1 
Cliron.xxi,  25. 
though,  of 
course,  it  may 
have  been 
n  s  e  d  before 
the  time  there 
referred  t  o . 
Some  suppose 
that  in  early 
times  gold 
jewelry  was 
made  of  speci- 
fied  weight, 
B  o  t  h  a  t  it 
might  be  used 
for  money. 
See  G  e  n. 
xxiv,  22.  5.— WEIGHING  MONEY,  (See  page  24.) 




2.  Ancient  money,  being;  uncoined,  was  weighed  instead  of  being  counted. 
Even  to  this  day  Oriental  merchants  weigh  the  silver  and  gold  which  are  the 
medium  of  traffic;  not  only  the  bullion,  but  the  coined  pieces  also,  lest  some 
dishonest  trader  might  pass  upon  them  a  coin  of  light  weight.  The  ancient 
Egyptians,  and  some  other  nation?,  used  rings  of  gold  and  of  silver  for  the 
same  purposes  that  coins  are  now  used.  These  rings  were  weighed,  the 

weights  being  in  the  form  of 
oxen,  lions,  geese,  sheep,  and 
other  animals.  Some  of  these 
weights  have  been  found ;  they 
are  made  of  bronze,  and  with 
a  ring  projecting  from  the  back 
for  a  handle. 

The  weighing  of  money  is 
also  referred  to  in  Jer.  xxxii, 
9,  10.  and  in  Zech.  xi,  12. 

3.  The  word  shekel  (from 
(sJiakal,  to  weigh)  indicates  the 
original  mode  of  reckoning 
money  by  weight  rather  than 
by  count ;  and  when  coined  money  was  introduced  it  was  natural  that  the 
name  originally  applied  to  what  was  weighed  should  be  given  to  what  was 
counted.  Thus  we  find  in  the  Bible  a  shekel  of  weight  and  a  shekel  of 
money.  The  exact  weight  of  the  shekel  is  not  known.  It  is  estimated  to 
have  been  between  nine  and  ten  pennyweights,  and  is  supposed  to  have  been 
worth  nearly  sixty  cents.  This  would  make  the  value  of  the  field  Abraham 
bought  of  Ephroii  nearly  two  hundred  and  forty  dollars. 

4.  The  expression  "current,"  seems  to  indicate  some  understood  standard 
of  value,  either  as  to  the  purity  of  the  silver  or  the  weight,  or  both.  li  The 
Pheniciau  merchants  usually  tried  the  silver  themselves,  and  then,  after 
dividing  a  bar  into  smaller  pieces,  put  the  mark  upon  them."  (Miduxlis.) 
There  may  also  have  been  a  mark  on  the  bar  or  on  the  ring  money  to  indi 
cate  its  weight. 


XXIII,  17,  18.  The  field  of  Ephron,  which  was  in  Maehpelah, 
which  was  before  Marnre,  the  field,  and  the  cave  which  was 
therein,  and  all  the  trees  that  were  in  the  field,  that  were  in  all 
the  borders  round  about,  were  made  sure  unto  Abraham  for  a 
possession  in  the  presence  of  the  children  of  Heth,  before  all 
that  went  in  at  the  gate  of  his  city. 

1.  AH  the  details  of  the  contract  are  hero  given  as  is  still  customary  in 
an  Oriental  bargain.  Every  thing  appertaining  to  the  lot  is  here  put  down  ; 
field,  cave,  trees,  every  thing  "in  all  the  borders  round  about."  Dr.  Thorn- 



son  says.  ''The  contract  must  mention  every  thing  that  belongs  to  it.  (the 
lot,)  and  certify  that  fountains  or  wells  in  it,  trees  upon  it,  etc.,  are  sold  with 
the  field.  If  you  rent  a  house,  not  only  the  building  itself,  but  every  room 
in  it.  above  and  below,  down  to  the  kitchen,  pantry,  stable,  and  hen-coop, 
must  be  specified." — The  Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  ii,  p.  383. 

2.  There  is  no  evidence  here  of  any  written  contract,  and  probably  the'-e 
was  none.     The   bargain    was  made  "  sure  "  by  being  consummated  in  the 
presence  of  the  crowd   assembled  at   the  gate,  as   bargains  often  are  now 
in   the   Fame  country,   the    number  of  the  witnesses   precluding  any  with 
drawing  from  the  contract  on  either  side. 

3.  "We  may  now  notice  the  steps  by  which  the  end  of  this  bargain  was 
gradually    reached.     How    much   time    was    consumed    we    are    not    told, 
but  that   there  was   a  great  deal   of  talking  there  can  be  no  doubt.     The 
whole  scene  v'.vidly  illustrates  what  many  modern  travelers  describe  from 
their  own  observation.     1.  Abraham  asks  the  Hittites  the  privilege  of  buy 
ing  a  place  of  burial,  (verse  4.)     2.  They  offer  him  the  free  use  of  any  one 
of  i heir  own  sepulehers  that  he  may  choose,  (verse  G.)     3.  Abraham  bows 
before  them  in  acknowledgment  of  their  courtesy,  (verse  7  )    4.  He  asks  them 
to  use  their  influence  with  Ephron  to  effect  a  sale,   (verse  8.)     5.  Ephron 
offers  to  make  him  a  present  of  the  whole  field  and  the  cave,  and  calls  on  the 
people  to  be  witnesses  of  his  generosity  and  sincerity,  (verse  11.)     6.  Abra 
ham  bows  again  before  them,  (verse  12.)     7.  He  declines  to  take  it  as  a  gift, 
and  offers  to  pay  for  it,  (verse  13.)     (See  a  parallel  instance  in  1  Chron.  xxi, 
22-25  )     8.   Ephron  names  his  price,  (three  or  four  times  what  the  land  was 
worth,  if  the  ancient  usages  were  the  same  as  the  modern,)  and  intimates 
that  such  a  price  is  a  small  matter  for  so  great  a  prince  as  he  is  dealing 
with,  (verse  15.)     9.  Abraham,  not  being  in  a  condition  to  insist  on  lower 
terms,  accepts  the  offer,  (verse  16.)     10.   The  money  is  weighed,  and  the 
land  becomes  the  property  of  Abraham,  (verse  16.) 


XXIII,  19.  Abraham  buried  Sarah  his  wife  in  the  cave  of  the 
field  of  Machpelah. 

Sepulchral  caves  are  still  found  in  many  parts  of  the  East.  Sometimes  a 
natural  cave  is  used,  with  such  modifications  as  necessity  may  require. 
The  place  where  Abraham  buried  Sarah  was  undoubtedly;  a  natural  cave. 
Tombs  were  frequently  hewn  out  of  the  rock.  See  note  on  Isa.  xxii.  16. 


XXIV,  2,  8.  Abraham  said  unto  his  eldest  servant  .  .  .  Put,  I 
pray  thee,  thy  hand  under  my  thigh,  and  .  .  .  swear,  etc. 

1.  The  most  intelligent  and  faithful  servant  in  the  household  was  ap 
pointed  overseer  of  the  others.  The  word  "eldest"  is  not  of  necessity 

26  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 

expressive  of  age,  but  of  authority.  This  was  the  head  servant,  chief  of  all 
the  rest,  thougrh  some  of  them  may  have  been  over  others.  In  a  similar 
way  we  use  the  word  "  elder  "  in  an  official  sense,  even  when  applied  to 
young  men.  Such  heid-servants  or  stewards  may  still  be  seen  portrayed 
on  Egyptian  tombs,  with  their  secretaries,  implements  of  "writing,  stewards' 
account  books,  and  articles  for  domestic  use.  This  was  the  position  which 
Joseph  filled.  Gen.  xxxix,  4. 

2.  The  mode  of  swearing  here  spoken  of  seems  to  have  been  peculiar  to 
the  patriarchs.  Jacob  required  Joseph  thus  to  swear  to  him.  Gen.  xlvii,  29. 
Various  conjectures  have  been  made  as  to  the  precise  position  of  the  hand 
or  hands  in  taking  this  oath,  for  which,  as  well  as  for  the  supposed  signifi 
cance  of  the  oath,  commentators  may  be  consulted. 


XXIV,  4.  Thou  shalt  go  unto  my  country,  and  to  my  kindred, 
and  take  a  wife  unto  my  son  Isaac. 

The  bridegroom  does  not  make  choice  of  his  bride;  the  parents  negotiate 
this  important  business  between  themselves,  and  the  young  people  are  ex 
pected  to  acquiesce  in  the  arrangement.  In  this  instance  Abraham  sends  a 
trusty  servant  hundreds  of  miles  away  to  select  for  his  son  a  wife  whom  he 
never  savv.  Hagar  chose  a  wife  for  Ishmael.  Gen.  xxi,  21.  Isaac  gave 
command  to  Jacob  on  this  important  subject.  Gen.  xxviii,  1.  Judah  selected 
a  wife  for  Er.  Gen.  xxxviii,  6.  Young  men  who  chose  wives  for  themselves 
without  parental  mediation  usually  afflicted  their  parents  in  so  doing.  Gen. 
xxvi,  35;  xxvii,  46.  The  sons,  however,  had  sometimes  tre  privilege  of 
suggesting  their  personal  preferences  to  their  parents.  Thus  Shechem  did 
(Gen.  xxxiv.  4 ;)  and  also  Samson.  Judges  xiv,  2. 

31.— WELLS. 

XXIV,  11.  He  made  his  camels  to  kneel  down  without  the  eity 
by  a  well  of  water  at  the  time  of  the  evening,  even  the  time 
that  women  go  out  to  draw  water. 

"  A  modern  guide-book  could  hardly  furnish  a  truer  picture  of  what  oc 
curs  at  the  close  of  every  day  in  the  vicinity  of  Eastern  villages  than  this 
description,  written  so  many  thousand  years  ago." — HACKETT,  Illustrations 
of  Scripture,  p.  89. 

1.  The  position  of  a  camel  when  at  rest  is  kneeling.     These  animals  are 
taught  it  when  young. 

2.  Villages  are  built  near  wells  or  springs  for  convenience,  but  not  near 
enough  to  be  discommoded  by  the  noise  and  dust  and  crowds  which  are 
sure  to  be  drawn  to  such  places. 

3.  The  work  of  carrying  water  is   done  almost  invariably  by   women, 

T.— AT  THE  WELL.    (Geu.  xxiv,  11.) 

Genesis.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  29 

excepting  in  some  large  Oriental  cities,  where  men  as  well  as  women  become 
water  carriers.     See  Gen.  xxix,  10;  Exod.  ii,  16;   1  Sam.  ix,  11. 
4.  Evening  and  early  morning  are  the  usual  times  for  visiting  the  well  for 

a  supply  of  water. 


XXIV,  15.     With  her  pitcher  upon   her  shoulder. 

The  ancient  pitchers  were  of  earthenware.  Lam.  iv,  2.  See  also  Judges 
vii,  20,  where  it  is  said  that  Gideon's  men  brake  theirs.  Such  are  used  now 
for  drawing  water.  Some  have  one  handle,  and  others  have  two. 


XXIV,  16.  She  went  down  to  the  well,  and  filled  her  pitcher, 
and  came  up. 

The  wells  are  usually  appfoached  by  flights  of  steps,  so  that  the  women 
may  dip  their  phchers  directly  into  the  water.  In  some  cases  the  wells  are 
dug  deep,  and  require  a  rope,  or  some  simple  machinery,  for  raising  the 
water.  See  note  on  John  iv,  11. 

34.— TROUGHS. 

XXIV,  20.    She   hasted,  and  emptied  her  pitcher  into  the  trough. 

These  troughs  are  placed  near  the  wells  for  convenience  in  watering 
cattle.  They  are  made  of  wood  or  stone.  Sometimes  a  long  stone  block  13 
hollowed  out,  from  which  a  number  of  animals  can  drink  at  once;  and  some 
times  the  troughs  are  smaller,  several  of  them  lying  about  the  same  well, 
each  so  small  as  to  accommodate  only  one  animal  at  a  time.  * 

See  also  Gen.  xxx,  38 ;  Exod.  ii,  16. 


XXIV,  22.  It  came  to  pass,  as  the  camels  had  done  drinking, 
that  the  man  took  a  golden  ear-ring  of  half  a  shekel  weight, 
and  two  bracelets  for  her  hands  of  ten  shekels  weight  of  gold. 
1.  The  "ear-ring"  here  spoken  of  (nezem)  is  more  properly  a  nose-ring. 
The  servant  says,  (verse  47,)  "I  put  the  ear-ring  upon  her  face."  The  pres 
ent  of  a  single  ear 
ring  would  be  strange ; 
to  put  it  on  the  face 
would  be  stranger  still. 
Nose-jewels  are  refer 
red  to  in  Prov.  xi,  22, 

Isa.  iii,  21,  and  Ezek.         ^^^^         I  III 
xvi,    12,     where     for 
"  forehead  "  in  the  text 
the  margin  has  "nose."  8.— NOSH-KINGS  OP  MODERN  EGYPT.   (HALF  aiax.) 



The  nose-ring  is  ma  <e  generally  of  silver  or  gold,  but  sometimes  of  coral, 
mother-of-pearl,  or  even  of  horn,  according:  to  the  taste  or  means  of  the 
wearer.  This  curious  ornament  varies  considerably  in  size  and  thickness. 
The  metal  rings  art;  usually  from  one  inch  to  one  inch  and  a  half  in  didtn- 
eti-r,  and  sometimes  are  as  largo  as  three  inches.  Beads,  coral,  or  jewels, 
lire  strung  upon  them.  They  are  usually  hung  from  the  right  nostril, 
though  sometimes  from  the  left,  and  occasionally  they  are  suspended  from 
the  middle  filament  of  the  nose,  Jn  India,  according  to  Roberts,  the  nose- 
jewels  are  of  different  shapes,  resembling  a  swan,  a  serpent,  or  a  flower. 
Anderson  saw  them  in  Egypt,  made  of  btass,  but  worn  only  by  women  of 
the  lower  class.  Graham  Fays  that  in  Syria,  as  well  as  in  Egypt,  these 
ornametiis  are  not  worn  among  the  respectable  classes  of  society,  but  are 
found  among  the  Aft  leans  and  s'aves;  so  that  the  fashion  seems  to  have 
changed  since  Rebekah's  day,  and  since  the  time  when  Isaiah  wrote. 

2.  The  weight  of  the  nose.jewel  given  to  Rebekah  (a  half  shekel)  was 
nearly  a  quarter  of  an  ounce,  troy. 

3.  Bracelets  are  almost  universally  worn  by  women  in  the  East.     They 
are  sometimes  made  of  gold,  sometimes  of  mother-of-pearl,  but  usually  of 
silver.     The  poorer  women  wear  thorn  made. of  plated  steel,  horn,  brass, 
copper,  and  occasionally  nothing  but  simple  strings  of  beads.     The  ;.rms  are 


sometimes  crowded  with  them  from  wrist  to  elbow.  They  are  sometimes 
Hat,  but  more  frequently  round  or  semicircular,  and  are  of, en  made  hollow 
to  give,  by  their  bulk,  the  appearance  of  greater  weight.  Bracelets  (tsemedim) 
arc  also  referred  to  in  Num.  xxxi,  50;  Ezek.  xvi,  11 ;  xxiji,  42.  The  other 
passages  in  which  ''bracelets"  occur  have  different  words  in  the  original, 
which  will  be  explained  under  the  several  texts  where  they  are  used. 

4.  The  weight  of  the  bracelets  presented  to  Rebekah  (ten  shekels)  xvas  over 
four  and  a  half  ounces.  They  are  sometimes  worn  heavier  than  this,  so  as 
to  seem  more  like  manacles  than  bracelets. 




XXIV,  53.  The  servant  brought  forth  jewels  of  silver,  and 
jewels  of  gold,  and  raiment,  and  gave  them  to  Rebekah. 

1.  Rich  and  splendid  apparel,  especially  such  as  was  adorned  with  gold, 
was  very  general  among  Eastern  nations  from  earliest  times,  and  is  still  quite 
common.     Reference  is  made  to  this  in  Psa.  xlv,  9,  1 3  :  "  Upon  thy  right  hand 
did  stand  the  queeu  in  gold  of  Ophir."— "  Her  clothing  is  of  wrought  gold." 

2.  These   beautiful   and  costly  bridal-presents  are  given  to  the  intended 
bride  by  the  expectant  bridegroom  for  the  purpose  of  binding  the  contract. 
See  note  on  Matt,  i,  1 8. 

37.— THE  NURSE. 

XXIV,  59.    They  sent  away  Rebekah  their  sister,  and  her  nurse. 

In  an  Eastern  family  the  nurse  is  a  very  important  personage.  She 
is  esteemed  almost  as  a  parent;  and,  accompanying  the  bride  to  her  new 
home,  there  remains  with  her.  She  becomes  the  adviser,  the  assistant,  and 
the  friend  of  the  bride.  To  the  nurse,  as  to  a  mother,  the  bride  will  con 
fide  her  greatest  secret*.  Thus  Rebekah  took  with  her  on  her  long  journey 
to  her  future  home  the  nurse  who  had  oared  for  her  since  childhood,  so  that, 
besides  the  female  servants  she  took  with  her,  (verse  61,)  she  might  have 
one  intimate  familiar  friend  among  strangers, 

XXIV,  64.    Rebekah  lifted  up  her  eyes,  and  when  she  saw  Isaac, 
she  lighted  off  the  camel. 

1.  The  expression  "lifted  up"  is  often  met  with  in  the  Scriptures  in  con 
nection  witli  the  eyes.     It  does  not  always  mean  to  look  upward,  but  some 
times  to  look  directly  and  earnestly  at  an  object.     Roberts  says,  it  is  to  this 
day  a  common  form  of  speech  in  India,     We  have  in  this  text  an  illustration. 
Igaao  may  have  looked  upward  when  "he  lifted  up  his  eyes"  and  saw  the 
caravan  coming,  for  he  was  walking  in   the  field,  engaged  in  meditation, 
(verse  63,)  and  very  likely  had  his  head  inclined,  and  his  eyes  downward; 
but  Rebekah,  on  the  back  of  a  camel,  could  hardly  have  looked  upward 
when  she  saw  Isaac.     She  simply  looked  directly  and  earnestly  at  him. 

2.  She  quickly  "lighted  off"  the  camel  when  she  discerned  Isaac^  thus 
giving  him  a  customary  mark  of  respect.     In  like  manner  Aehsah  alighted 
in  the  presence  of  Othniel  and  of  Caleb,  (Josh,  xv,  1 8  ;)  Abigail  thus  alighted 
in  the  presence  of  David,  (1  Sam.  xxv,  23 ;)  and  even  the  haughty  Naaman 
was  so  happy  over  his  wonderful  cure  that  he  alighted  from  his  chariot  in 
the  presence  of  Elieha'g  servant,    (2  Kings  v,    21,)   showing  Gehazi   the 
respect  he  would  have  shown  to  his  master  had  lie  been  present.     Travelers 
tell  us  that  this  custom  is  still  practiced. 

82  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 

39.— THE  VAIL. 

XXIV,  65.  The  servant  had.  said,  It  is  my  master:  therefore  she 
took  a  vail  and  covered  herself. 

1.  The  custom  of  vailing  the  face  of  women,  now  so  common  in  the  East, 
was  not  general  in  the  days  of  the  patriarchs,  nor  for  a  long  time  after. 
The  women  usually  appeared  in  public  wiih  faces  exposed.  Much  of  the 
modern  Oriental  scrupulousness  on  this  subject  is  due  to  Mohammedan 
influence,  the  Koran  forbidding  women  to  appear  unvailed  except  in  the  pres 
ence  only  of  their  nearest  relatives.  No  representations  of  vails  are  found  on 
either  the  Assyrian  or  the  Egyptian  monuments;  yet  the  Egyptians,  as  well  as 
the  Hebrews,  did  use  the  vail  on  special  occasions.  Wilkinson  says,  that  the 
ancient  Egyptian  vail  was  not  so  thick  as  the  boorko  of  modern  Egypt;  but 
was  thin  enough  to  be  seen  through,  like  that  of  the  Wahabees.  The  vailing 
of  the  bride  before  coming  into  the  presence  of  the  bridegroom  is  a  very 
ancient  custom,  indicating  modesty,  and  subjection  to  the  husband. 

It  is  claimed  by  some,  however,  that  the  tsaiph — both  here  and  in  Gen. 
xxxviii,  14.  rendered  "  vail" — was  not  properly  a  vail,  but  rather  a  large  wrap 
per  which  was  worn  out  of  doors;  a  light  summer  dress,  of  handsome  appear 
ance  and  of  ample  dimensions,  so  that  it  might  be  thrown  over  the  head  at 
pleasure.  Thus,  when  she  saw  Isaac,  Rebekah  slipped  the  upper  part  of  her 
loose  flowing  robe  over  her  head,  thereby  concealing  her  face  from  her  ex 
pectant  lover. 


XXIV,  6T.    Isaac  brought  her  into   his   mother  Sarah's  tent,  and 
took   Rebekah,  and  she   became   his  wife. 

1.  The  expression  "Sarah's  tent"  may  mean  nothing  more  than  her  apart 
ment  in  the  principal  tent  of  the  encampment,  (see  Gen.  xviii,  9,  10;  Judges 
iv,  18;  and  see  note  on  Sol.  Song  i,  5;)  though  it  is  sometimes  customary 
for  the  women  to  have  separate  tents  of  their  own,  as  seems  to  have  been 
the  case  with  Leah  and  Rachel.    Gen.  xxxi,  33.     This  would  doubtless  be 
desirable  where  there  were  more  wives  than  one. 

2.  There  is  no  evidence  of  any  special  religious  forms  in  these  primitive 
marriages.      The   preliminaries   referring   to    dowry   and    similar    financial 
matters  being  satisfactorily  arranged,  the  man  took  his  wife  as  Isaac  took 
Rebekah.     The  essence  of  the  marriage  ceremony  consisted  in  the  removal 
of  the  bride  from  her  father's  house  to  that  of  the  bridegroom  or  of  his 



XXV,  81,  33.    Jacob  said,  Sell  me  this  day  thy  birthright  .  .  .  And 
he  sold   his   birthright. 

Great  respect  wag  paid  by  the  household  to  the  first-born  son.  He  had 
headship  over  his  brothers;  he  succeeded  to  the  father's  official  authority; 

G3  esi..]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  33 

ie  iiad  a  special  claim  to  the  father's  benediction;  in  him  was  the  pro- 
geuitorship  of  the  Messiah;  the  domestic  priesthood  belonged  to  him,  ac 
cording  to  some  authorities,  though  this  is  denied  by  others.  Under  the 
Mosaic  law  he  received  a  double  portion  of  the  father's  goods.  This  birth 
right  could  be  transferred  to  another  for  a  consideration,  or  withheld  by  the 

father  for  cause. 

42.— POTTAGE. 

XXV,  84.  Jacob  gave  Esau  bread  and  pottage  of  lentiles  ;  and 
he  did  eat  and  drink,  and  rose  up,  and  went  his  way.  Thus 
Esau  despised  his  birthright. 

Pottage  was  often  made  of  lentiles,  and  is  so  made  at  this  day.  Dr. 
Shaw  says  that  they  are  cooked  like  beans,  which  they  very  much  resemble, 
"  dissolving  easily  into  a  mass,  and  making  a  pottage  of  a  chocolate  color."  ^ 
In  India  this  sort  of  food  is  considered  so  cheap  and  common  that  it 
represents,  in  proverbial  speech,  any  thing  that  is  worthless.  '-The  fellow 
has  sold  his  land  for  pottage ;  "  that  is,  for  an  insignificant  consideration.  '•  The 
learned  one  has  fallen  into  the  pottage-pot;  "  that  is,  the  wise  man  has  done 
what  was  not  expected  of  him— a  mean  thing.  "He  is  trying  to  procure 
rabies  by  pottage;  "  that  is,  he  wishes  to  get  great  things  by  small  means. 
—Roberts,  These  expressions  illustrate  the  despicable  conduct  of  Esau, 
who  sold  his  priceless  birthright  for  a  mess  of  mean  food,  the  emblem  of 


XXVI,  15.  All  the  wells  which  his  father's  servants  had  digged 
in  the 'days  of  Abraham  his  father,  the  Philistines  had  stopped 
them,  and  filled  them  with  earth. 

In  the  East,  digging  wells  gives  title  to  unoccupied  lands.  Isaac 
therefore  owned  by  inheritance  the  land  in  the  vicinity  of  which  these  wells 
had  been  dug  by  his  father's  direction.  In  a  pastoral  country  it  is  a  serious 
matter  to  choke  up  the  wells  which  have  been  dug  for  the  convenience  of 
Hocks  and  herds.  It  is,  in  fact,  a  declaration  of  war,  and  has  always  been 
considered  a  hostile  act.  Thus  the  Israelites  did  according  to  Divine  com- 
mand  when  they  invaded  Moab.  2  Kings  iii,  19,  25.  In  some  parts  of 
Persia  the  people  have  a  way  of  concealing  their  wells  with  boards  covered 
with  sand,  so  as  to  conceal  them  from  the  eye  of  an  enemy. 


XXVI,  20.  The  herdmen  of  Gerar  did  strive  with  Isaac's  herd- 
men,  saying,  The  water  is  ours. 

These  contests  between  rival  herdmen  for  the  possession  of  wells  are  still 
common  in  the  land.  Water  is  so  necessary,  and  yet  sometimes  so  hard  to 
get,  that  it  is  no  wonder  there  are  battles  wnged  for  it.  Some  travelers 


state  that  the  Bedawfn  would  give  a  stranger  milk  to  drink  rather  than 
water,  the  latter  being  more  valuable.  A  contest  similar  to  the  one  noticed 
in  the  text  took  place  between  the  servants  of  Abraham  and  those  of  Abim- 
elech.  Gen.  xxi,  25. 


XXVI  80,81.  He  made  them  a  feast,  and  they  did  eat  and  drink 
And  they  rose  up  betimes  ...  and  sware  one  to  another 

It  was  customary  among  the  Hebrews,  and  also  among  the  heathen 
nations,  to  eat  together  when  entering  into  a  covenant.  When  Jacob  made 
his  covenant  with  Laban  he  made  a  feast  for  his  brethren.  Gen.  xxxi  54 
Many  allusions  to  this  custom  are  made  by  classical  writers. 


XXVII,  3,  4.  Go  out  to  the  field,  and  take  me  some  venison  • 
and  make  me  savory  meat,  such  as  I  love,  and  bring  it  to  me' 
that  I  may  eat. 

This  means  a  dish  prepared  in  any  appetizing  way,  but  especially  by 
means  of  condiments.  The  Orientals  are  fond  of  highly  seasoned  food. 
Salt,  spices,  onions,  garlic,  and  various  aromatic  herbs,  such  as  saffron  and 
mint,  are  used  as  seasoning  for  their  meats. 

Some  commentators  suppose  a  connection  between  this  feast  and  the 
former  patriarchal  blessing.  They  regard  it  as  a  solemn  covenant  cere 
mony—a  sacrifice  which  ratifies  the  blessing.  Such  covenant  solemnities 
were  usually  associated  with  a  meal  among  the  Orientals.  • 


XXVII,  41.    The  days  of  mourning  for  my  father  are  at  hand. 
This  alludes  to   the  formal  ceremonious  mourning  for  the  dead,  which 

usually  lasted  seven  days,  (Gen.  1,  10;  1  Sam.  xxxi,  13;  Job  ii,  13,)  though  it 
was  sometimes  continued  for  a  longer  period. 
See  note  on  John  xi,  17. 


XXVIII,  11.    He  lighted  upon  a  certain   place,  and  tarried  there 
11  night  .    .    .    and    he  took  of  the  stones  of  that  place,    and  put 
tern   for   his   pillows,    and    lay   down    in  that  place  to  sleep. 

1.  Sleeping  out  of  doors  all  night  could  have  been  no  hardship  to  a  man 
inured  to  a  shepherd's  life,  for  this  was  a  shepherd's  custom. 

2.  It  is  riot  likely,  as  many  seem  to  imagine,  that  his  head  rested  on  the 
nuked  stone.     His  outer  mantle  could  easily  have  been  drawn  up  over  his 
head,  and  its  folds  would  have  made  an  excellent  pillow  on  the  stone  head 
rest,  the  hardness  of  which  could  be  further  modified  by  the  covering  he 
usually  wore  on  his  head. 



XXVIII.  IS.    Jacob  rose    up  early   in  the  morning,  and  took  the 
stone   that  he  had   put  for   his   pillows,  and   set  it  up   for  a  pillar, 
and  poured  oil  upon  the  top  of  it. 

1.  This  stone  was  set  up  as  a  monument  of  God's  wonderful  revelation  to 
him,  and  of  his  vow.  Verse  20.     Thirty  years  later  he  repeated  this  solemn 
act  in  the  same  place.  Gen.  xxxv,  14.     Moses  likewise  built  twelve  pillars  at 
Sinai  as  a  sign  of  God's  covenant.    Kxod.  xxiv,   4.     So  Joshua  set  up  a 
monument  of  stones  in  commemoration  of  the  passage  of  the  Jordan.  Josh, 
iv,  3-9.     At  Shechem  also  he  set  up  a  stone  under  an  oak  as  a  memorial  of 
the  covenant  between  God  and  liis  people.  Josh,  xxiv,  26.     In  like  manner 
Samuel   erected   a  stone   between   Mizpeh    and   Shen  to  commemorate  his 
victory  over  the  Philistines.   1  Sam.  vii,  12.     As  these  stone  pillars  were  all 
erected  as  testimonies  of  some  great  events,  it  has  been  suggested  that  Paul 
in   1  Tim.  iii,  15  designs  to  represent  the  Church  as  a  pillar  of  testimony  for 
the   truth,   God  having  founded  and  reared  the  Church  as  a  monument  for 
that  purpose. 

There  existed  in  heathen  countries  a  practice  similar  to  the  one  referred 
to  in  the  text.  Morier  gives  a  good  illustration  of  our  text  in  a  little  inci 
dent  he  saw  while  traveling  in  Persia.  He  says:  "I  remarked  that  our  old 
guide,  every  here  and  there,  placed  a  stone  on  a  conspicuous  bit  of  rock, 
or  two  stones  one  upon  the  other,  at  the  same  time  uttering  some  words, 
which  I  learned  were  a  prayer  for  our  safe  return." — Second  Journey  through 
Persia,  p.  85.  He  had  frequently  seen  similar  stones  without  knowing 
their  design. 

2.  The  anointing  of  the  stone  by  Jacob  was  doubtless  designed  as  a  solemn 
act  of  consecration  of  this  stone  to  its  monumental  purposes;  just  as  subse- 
quently  Moses,  by  command  of  God,  anointed  the  tabernacle  and  its  furni 
ture.  Num.  vii,  1.     This  act  of  the  patriarch  is  not  to  be  confounded  with 
the  idolatrous  practice,  common  among  heathens,  of  pouring  oil  upon  stones 
and  worshiping  them.     See  note  on  Isa.  Ivii,  6. 


XXIX,  2.    Out  of  that  well  they  watered  the   flocks :  and  a  great 
stone  was  upon  the  well's  mouth. 

This  was  to  protect  the  water  from  impurity,  and  from  shifting  sands, 
which  without  such  protection  would  soon  choke  it.  Modern  travelers  make 
fieqnent  mention  of  the  stone  covers  to  wells  and  cisterns.  Some  of  these 
stones  are  so  large  and  heavy  as  to  require  the  united  strength  of  several 
men  to  remove  them.  May  there  not  be  reference  to  this  custom  in  Job 
xxxviii,  30:  "The  wa'ers  are  hid  as  with  a  stone,  and  the  face  of  the  deep 
is  frozen?" 



XXIX,  8.  Thither  were  all  the  flocks  gathered  :  and  they  rolled 
the  stone  from,  the  well's  mouth,  and  watered  the  sheep, 
and  put  the  stone  again  upon  the  well's  mouth  in  his  place. 

This  is  not  a  part  of  the  history;  since  all  the  flocks  were  not  actually 
gathered  and  the  stone  removed  until  Rachel  came.  Verse  1 0.  The  verse  is 
meant  to  describe  the  general  custom  of  the  country.  It  was  usual  to 
w.-iit  until  all  the  flocks  were  gathered,  and  then  the  stone  was  taken  off 
and  the  work  of  watering  began.  Verse  8.  Harmer  refers  to  the  state 
ment  of  Sir  John  Chardin,  that  he  had  known  wells  or  cisterns  locked  up 
in  the  East,  and  accepts  Chardin's  explanation  that  this  may  have  been 
the  case  in  this  instance,  and  that  Rachel  probably  had  the  key,  and  that  for 
that  reason  they  were  all  obliged  to  wait  until  she  came.  But  we  see  no 
reason  for  supposing  any  lock  and  key  in  the  case;  no  mention  is  made  of 
them  in  the  narrative.  The  reason  assigned  in  verse  8  for  waiting  for 
Rachel  is,  not  that  she  had  any  special  means  for  opening  the  well,  but  that 
it  was  customary  for  all  the  flocks  to  be  gathered  before  the  stone  was  rolled 


XXIX,  6.    Behold   Rachel   his  daughter   cometh  with   the  sheep. 

Burder  calls  attention  to  the  fact  that  the  name  Rachel  signifies,  in  He 
brew,  a  sheep,  and  says,  "  It  was  anciently  the  custom  to  give  names  even  to 
families  from  cattle,  botli  great  and  small." — Oriental  Customs,  No.  48.  This 
ancient  custom  is  no  more  singular  than  that  which  is  common  among  us,  of 
naming  families  after  all  sorts  of  beasts  and  birds,  wild  and  tame;  for  exam 
ple,  Wolf,  Fox,  Lion,  Bear,  BuD,  Nightingale,  Jay,  Hawk,  Finch,  etc. 


XXIX,  13.  And  it  came  to  pass,  when  Laban  heard  the  tidings 
of  Jacob  his  sister's  son,  that  he  ran  to  meet  him,  and  em 
braced  him,  and  kissed  him. 

This  custom  of  embraces  arid  kisses  among  men,  though  strange  to  us,  is 
common  enough  in  the  East.  Jacob  kissed  his  father.  Gen.  xxvii,  27.  Esau 
embraced  and  kissed  Jacob.  Gen.  xxxiii,  4.  Joseph  kissed  all  his  brethren. 
Gen.  xlv,  15.  Jacob  kissed  and  embraced  Joseph's  sons.  Gen.  xlviii,  10. 
Aaron  kissed  Moses.  Exod.  iv,  27.  Moses  kissed  Jethro.  Exod.  xviii,  7. 
David  and  Jonathan  kissed  each  other.  1  Sam.  xx,  41.  The  father  of  the 
prodigal  is  represented  a«  kissing  him  when  he  returned  home.  Luke  xv,  20. 
The  elders  at  Miletus  fell  on  Paul's  neck  and  kissed  him.  Acts  xx,  37. 
Modern  travelers  make  frequent  mention  of  this  custom. 

Genesis.]  BIBLE    MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  37 

54.— WEAK  EYES. 
XXIX,  17.     Leah   was    tender-eyed. 

That  is,  she  had  weak  or  dull  eyes,  which,  according  to  the  Oriental  stand 
ard  of  beauty,"  is  a  great  blemish. 


XXIX,  19.  It  is  better  that  I  give  her  to  thee,  than  that  I  should 
give  her  to  another  man. 

It  is  still  customary  among  many  Eastern  tribes  to  give  the  preference  in 
marriage  to  a  cousin.  It  is  expected  that  a  man  will  marry  his  cousin.  He 
is  riot  compelled  to  do  it,  but  he  has  the  right,  and  she  is  not  allowed  to 
marry  any  other  without  his  consent. 


XXIX,  20.    Jacob  served  seven  years  for  Rachel. 

The  dowry  comes  not  with  the  bride,  but  for  the  bride.  In  Oriental  mar 
riages  the  bride  is  given  only  on  receipt  of  a  consideration.  In  many  cases 
the  transaction  amounts  to  actual  bargain  and  sale;  this,  however,  is  not 
necessarily  the  case.  Custom  regards  the  father  of  the  bride  as  entitled 
to  some  compensation  for  the  trouble  had  in  her  training,  and  for  the  loss 
of  service  experienced  by  her  departure  from  home.  If  this  compensation 
cannot  be  rendered  in  money,  jewels,  or  cattle,  it  may  be  given  in  labor. 
It  was  in  this  way  that  Jacob  became  herdman  to  Laban.  Moses  probably 
served  Jethro  in  a  similar  manner,  for  the  sake  of  having  Zipporah.  Comp. 
Exod.  ii,  21;  iii,  1.  Shechem  offered  to  Jacob  and  his  sons  any  amount  of 
dowry  he  was  pleased  to  ask  for  Dinah.  Gen.  xxxiv,  12. 


XXIX,  22.  Laban  gathered  together  all  the  men  of  the  place 
and  made  a  feast. 

The  usual  duration  of  a  marriage  feast  was  a  week.  Thus,  "Fulfill  her 
week,"  in  verse  27.  means,  "Wait  until  the  week's  festivities  are  over." 
This  was  the  duration  of  Samson's  marriage  feast.  Judges  xiv,  12. 


XXIX,  26.  Laban  said,  It  must  not  be  so  done  in  our  country, 
to  give  the  younger  before  the  first-born. 

This  ancient  custom  still  exists  in  India,  and  is  sometimes  observed  in 
Egypt.  It  also  prevailed  in  old  imperial  Germany.  In  India  it  is  con- 
sidered  disgraceful  in  the  extreme,  and  according  to  the  G-entoo  law  a  crime, 
for  a  father  to  permit  a  younger  daughter  to  get  married  before  the  elder, 
or  for  a  younger  son  to  be  married  while  his  elder  brother  remains  single. 
If  the  eldest  daughter  be  deformed,  or  blind,  or  deaf,  or  dumb  then  the 




younger  may  be  married  first.  If  a  father  have  an  opportunity  to  marry 
one  of  his  younger  daughters  advantageously,  he  will  first  do  all  he  can  to 
get  the  elder  one  married,  and  until  this  can  be  done  the  younger  cannot  be 



XXIX,  32.  She  called  his  name  Reuben  ;  for  she  said,  Surely 
the  Lord  hath  looked  upon  my  affliction. 

Reuben,  that  is,  See!  a  son!  This  was  in  joyful  acknowledgment  of 
this  evidence  of  God's  goodness.  Many  of  the  proper  names  in  the  Scriptures 
have  a  meaning  in  some  way  connected  with  the  persons  bearing  them.  Other 
people  besides  the  Jews  have  had  this  custom :  Africans,  Arabs,  East  Indians, 
arid  the  aborigines  of  our  own  land.  Thus  a  certain  Abyssinian  was  named 
Omazena,  because  of  a  wart  on  his  hand;  an  Arab  boy  was  called  Duman, 
because  he  was  born  before  the  gate  Bab-el-Duma  at  Damascus.  Among  the 
Hindoos  we  find  AniAfuttoo,  the  precious  pearl;  Pun  Amma,  the  golden  lady  ; 
Chinny  Tamly,  the  little  friend.  Among  the  North  Amer'can  Indians  we 
have  Kosh-kin-ne-kait,  the  cut-off  arm ;  Wah-ge-kaut,  crooked  legs;  Wau-zhe- 
gaw-maish-kum,  he  that  walks  along  the  shore. 

XXXI,  19.    Rachel  had  stolen  the  images  that  were  her  father's. 

These  "images"  (teraphim)  are  supposed  to  have  been  rude  representa 
tions  of  the  human  form  ;  perhaps  the  statuettes  of  deceased  ancestors. 
Nothing  definite  is  known  as  to  their  size.  They  could  not  have  been  very 
large,  or  Rachel  would  not  have  been  able  to  conceal  them  under  the  bag 
gage;  nor  could  they  have  been  very 
small,  or  they  would  not  have  served 
Michal's  purpose  of  deception.  See 
1  Sam.  xix,  1 3, 1 6.  They  may  have  been  of 
different  sizes.  Their  use  is  very  ancient: 
the  Israelites  adopted  them  from  the  Ara- 
mefins.  They  were  household  gods  which 
were  consulted  as  omcles.  Micah  the 
Kphrnimite  placed  them  in  his  "house  of 
fcods."  Judg.  xvii,  5;  xv.if,  14,  17.  18,  20. 
Some  Jewish  writers  believe  that  the 
teraphim  were  supposed,  on  consultation, 
to  be  able  to  give  any  information  de 
sired,  and  that  Rachel  stole  them  from  her 
father  for  fear  he  should  learn,  by  con 
sulting  them,  what  route  Jacob  and  his 
!:>.— Ti-KA'-iiiM.  fdinily  had  taken.  Whether  or  not  the 

Genesis.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  39 

terapliim  were  actually  worshiped  is  a  disputed  question.  The  Hebrews 
certainly  kept  up  the  worship  of  Jehovah  in  connection  with  the  use  of  the 
teraphim.  It  was  not  until  the  reign  of  Josiah  that  this  singular  custom 
was  abolished.  2  Kings  xxiii,  24.  We  even  find  traces  of  it  afterward  as  late 
as  the  time  of  Hosea.  Hosea  Hi,  4.  The  practice  became  deeply  rooted,  arid 
extended  over  large  regions  of  country.  The  Lares  and  Penates  of  the 
Romans  are  supposed  to  have  been  used  for  the  same  purposes  as  these 
teraphim.  "The  Penates  were  divinities  or  household  gods,  who  were  be 
lieved  to  be  the  creators  or  dispensers  of  all  the  well-being  and  gifts  of 
fortune  enjoyed  by  a  family,  as  well  as  an  entire  community."  ^"  Every  fam 
ily  worshiped  one  or  more  of  these,  whose  images  were  kept*in  the  inner 
part  of  the  house."  The  Lares  were  "  guardian  spirits  whose  place  was  the 
chimney-piece,  and  whose  altar  was  the  domestic  hearth."  Lares  and  Pen 
ates  were  worshiped  "in  the  form  of  little  figures  or  images  of  wax,  earth 
enware,  or  terra  cotta,  and  of  metal,  more  especially  silver."— BAKKER'S 
Lares  and  Penates,  pp.  146,  147. 

Faber  supposes  the  teraphim  to  be  identical  with  the  cherubim.  He 
thinks  that  those  which  belonged  to  Laban  were  images  resembling  the 
cherubim  which  were  afterward  put  on  the  ark.—  Origin  of  Pagan  Idolatry 
vol.  iii,  p.  621. 


XXXI,  27.  I  might  have  sent  thee  away  with  mirth,  and  with 
songs,  with  tabret,  and  with  harp. 

1.  The  word  toph,  here  and  in  other  places  rendered  "tabret,"  and  in  a 
number  of  texts  translated  "  timbrel,"  represents  a  very  ancient  musical  in 
strument  of  percussion.     There  are  three  varieties  depicted  on  the  Egyptian 
monuments:  one  circular,  another  square  or  oblong,  and  a  third  consisting 
of  two  squares    separated  by  a  bar.     Over  these  frames  parchment  was 
stretched,  arid  in  the  rim  were  small  bells  or  pieces  of  tinkling  brass.     The 
toph  was  used  on  occasions  of  joy,  and  was  generally  played  by  women,  and 
often  accompanied  by  dancing.     It  is  reproduced  in  the  "  tambourine  "  which 
is  occasionally  seen  in  the  streets  of  our  large  cities  in  the  hands  of  itinerant 
musicians  as  an  accompaniment  to  the  barrel-organ. 

2.  The  word  kinnor,  which  frequently  occurs  in  the  Old  Testament,  and 
is  translated  "  harp,"  has  given  rise  to  considerable  discussion.     It  was  ur- 
doubtedly  the  earliest  musical  instrument  made,  (Gen.  iv,  21,)  though  some 
suppose  that  the  text  referred  to  is  meant  to  show  that  Jubal  was  the  in 
ventor   of   stringed  instruments  generally,   without    referring  to  any  par 
ticular  kind.     As  to  the  shape  of  this  ancient  instrument  there  is  no  cer 
tainty.     It  has  been  variously  represented   by  different  writers  as   shaped 
:ike  the  lyre,  the  Greek  letter  A,  the  guitar,  and  the  modern  harp.     There  is 




equal  variety  of  opinion  as  to  the  number  of  strings.  Seven,  ten,  twenty- 
four,  and  forty-seven  have  been  named.  It  has  also  been  asserted  by  some 
that  it  was  played  by  means  of  a  plectrum,  while  others  assert  that  it  was 
played  by  hand.  These  conflicting  statements  may  all  be  harmonized  by 
supposing  that  the  shape  varied  at  different  times,  or  that  the  word  kinnor 
was  the  generic  term  for  all  instruments  of  the  lyre  kind ;  that  the  number 
of  strings  varied  at  different  periods,  or  with  the  size  of  the  instrument; 
that  the  instruments  were  of  different  sizes;  and  that  they  were  sometimes 
played  with  a  plectrum  and  sometimes  by  hand.  The  kinnor  was  a  very 
popular  instrument  with  the  Hebrews,  and  was  used  at  jubilees  and  festi 
vals.  Its  use  was  also  practiced  by  other  nations. 


XXXI,  34.  Rachel  had  taken  the  images,  and  put  them  in  the 
camel's  furniture,  and  sat  upon  them. 

It  is  not  known  whether  this  "  furniture "  \vas  simply  the  cloth  which 
covered  the  camel's  back,  or  a  couch  which  might  be  used  at  night  for 

a  bed,  or  a 
fi  x  t  u  r  e  re 
sembling  the 
wicker-  work 
chair  or  cage, 
covered  with 
a  canopy, 
which  is  used 
by  the  mod- 
11. — CAMELS'  FURNITURE.  c  r  n  Arab 

ladies  when  they  ride  on  camels.  Whether  Rachel  made  use  of  any  such 
arrangement  or  not,  the  place  where  the  teraphim  were  concealed  was  evi 
dently  in  the  article,  whatever  it  was,  which  took  the  place  of  a  saddle,  and 
on  which  Rachel  sat.  It  is  at  this  day  common  for  the  Arabs  to  hide 
stolen  property  under  the  padding  of  their  saddles. 


XXXI,  48.  Laban  said,  This  heap  is  a  witness  between  me  and 
thee  this  day. 

The  use  of  stones  in  making  a  covenant  is  referred  to  in  the  Bible  on 
several  occasions.  Herodotus  speaks  of  a  similar  custom  among  the  an 
cient  Arabians.  He  says:  "When  two  men  would  swear  a  friendship, 
they  stand  on  each  side  of  a  third.  He,  with  a  sharp  stone,  makes  a  cut  on 
the  inside  of  the  hand  of  each,  near  the  middle  finger,  and  taking  a  piece 
from  their  dress  dips  it  in  the  blood  of  each,  and  moistens  therewith  seven 

Genesis.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  4.1 

stones  lying  in  the  midst,  calling  meanwhile  on  Bacchus   and  Urania." — 
RAWLIXSON'S  Herodotus,  ii,  p.  401. 

Some  think  that  Job  refers  to  this  custom  when  he  speaks  of  "  a  days 
man."  See  Job  ix,  33. 


XXXIII,  10.  Jacob  said,  Nay,  I  pray  thee,  if  now  I  have  found, 
grace  in  thy  sight,  then  receive  my  present  at  nay  hand. 

The  giving  of  presents  is  far  more  common  in  the  f]ast,  and  has  more  sig 
nificance,  than  with  us.  Hardly  any  transaction  of  importance  can  take 
place  without  a  gift.  The  formal  visits  which  friends  make  to  each  other 
are  preceded  by  presents  of  fowls,  sheep,  rice,  coffee,  and  other  provisions. 
S'r  John  Chardin  notices  that  in  Persia  every  one  gives  what  is  most  at 
hand,  and  has  a  relation  to  his  profession,  and  tliose  who  have  no  particular 
profession  give  money.  A  refusal  to  receive  a  present  is,  throughout  the 
East,  interpreted  as  an  evidence  of  enmity.  Hence  Jacob's  anxiety  that 
Esau  should  accept  the  gift  he  offered.  See  also  Gen.  xliii,  11 ;  Judges 
iii,  18;  1  Sam.  ix,  7  ;  x,  27  ;  2  Sam.  xvii,  27-29;  1  Kings  x,  2,  10;  xiv,  3; 
2  Kings  v,  5,  15;  viii,  9;  2  Chron.  ix,  24;  Psa.  Ixxii,  10;  Ixxvi,  11;  Prov. 
xviii,  16;  Matt,  ii,  11. 

65.— KESITAH. 

XXXIII,  19.  He  bought  a  parcel  of  a  field,  where  he  had  spread 
his  tent,  at  the  hand  of  the  children  of  Hamor,  Sheehem's 
father,  for  a  hundred  pieces  of  money. 

Under  the  impression  that  the  word  kesitah,  here  rendered  "pieces  of 
money,"  means  a  lamb,  many  of  the  ancient  commentators  supposed  that 
here  WMS  an  evidence  of  early  coinage;  the  "  pieces  of  money"  being  coins 
having  on  them  the  impress  of  a  lamb.  Stanley  (Hist.  Jewish  Church, 
Lect.  Ill,)  adopts  this  theory,  and  some  other  writers  of  our  time  agree  with 
him.  Coins  have  indeed  been  found  with  the  figure  of  a  lamb  upon  them, 
but  they  were  not  struck  until  later  than  B.C.  450,  and,  according  to  the 
best  numismatists,  probably  belonged  to  Cyprus.  Madden  affirms  that  the 
earliest  coined  money  was  in  the  eighth  century  before  Christ,  and  that 
"  the  use  of  coined  money  in  Palestine  cannot  have  existed  till  after  the 
taking  of  Samaria  by  the  Assyrians  (in  B.C.  721.)"— Jewish  Coinage,  p.  14. 

Other  interpreters  have  supposed  the  kesitah  to  be  a  weight  made  in  the 
form  of  a  lamb,  as  ancient  weights  have  been  found  in  the  shape  of  bulls, 
lions,  and  other  animals.  See  note  on  Gen.  xxiii,  16, 

Some  of  the  recent  philologists,  however,  deny  that  Jcetitah  means  a  lamb. 
They  derive  it  from  a  root  signifying  to  iveigh,  and  suppose  it  to  have  been 
a  piece  of  silver  of  unknown  weight  or  size. 

The  same  word  is  used  in  Job  xlii,  11. 


66.— EAR-RINGS. 

XXXV,  4.  They  gave  unto  Jacob  all  the  strange  gods  which 
were  in  their  hand,  and  all  their  ear-rings  which  were  in  their 
ears  ;  and  Jacob  hid  them  under  the  oak  which  was  by 

Ear-rings  were  of  various  sizes,  shapes,  and  material.     At  the  present  day, 

among  the  Orientals,  they  are  of  gold, 
silver,  brass,  ivory,  horn,   and  wood  ; 

they  are  sometimes  plain,    and   some 
times   adorned   with    precious    stones- 
12. — EGYPTIAN  EAR-RING  AMULETS.        0 

Some  are  small,  and  nt  closely  to  the 

ear,  leaving  no  intermediate  space;  while  others  are  large  nnd  heav3r,  and 
drop  some  distance  below  the  ear.  Some  of  these,  by  their  weight,  make  a 
disagreeable-looking  hole  in  the  part  of  the  ear  whence  they  hang.  MacGregor 
saw  some  men  near  Lake  Huleh  with  ear-rings  "rot  in  the  lobe  of  the  ear, 
but  in  the  projecting  flesh." — Rob  Roy  on  the  Jordan,  p.  150.  It  is  supposed 
by  some  that  the  use  of  ear-rings  among  the  Hebrews  was  confined  to  the 
women.  If  so  there  must  have  been  exceptions.  See  Exod.  xxxii,  2. 

It  is  evident  from  this  text  that  it  was  customary  to  connect  the  use  of 
ear-rings  with  idolatry.  This  is  further  intimated  in  Hosea  ii,  13,  where  the 
wearing  of  ear-rings  is  associated  with  burning  incense  to  Baal.  Isa.  iii,  20 
is  also  supposed  to  refer  to  idolatrous  practices.  Ear-rings  were  doubtless 
used  as  amulets.  With  strange  figures  and  characters  engraved  upon  them 
they  were  considered  as  charms  warding  off  evil.  They  are  still  thus  used 
in  the  East.  Jacob,  being  commanded  to  go  to  Bethel  to  renew  his  cove 
nant  with  God,  desired  to  put  away  every  vestige  of  idolatry  from  the 
people,  and  for  this  reason  buried  these  ear-ring  amulets  with  the  teraphim 
under  the  oak. 


XXXVII,  3.  Israel  loved  Joseph:  and  he  made  him  a  coat  of 
many  colors. 

Or,  "a  coat  of  pieces."  The  ordinary  Tunic  was  a  garment  worn  next  to 
the  skin,  reaching  to  the  knees,  and  usually  without  sleeves.  Joseph's  coat 
is  supposed  to  have  had  sleeves,  and  to  have  reached  to  the  wrists  and 
ankles;  a  luxurious  robe,  and  a  mark  of  distinction  such  as,  in  later  times, 
Tamar  and  the  other  daughters  of  the  king  wore.  2  Sam.  xiii,  18.  The 
"pieces"  may  have  been  different  pieces  of  cloth  variously  colored,  and  of 
which  the  garment  was  made ;  or  they  may  have  been  various  colored 
threads,  stripes,  or  plaids.  In  India  coats  of  different  colored  patchwork 
are  made  for  favorite  children,  pieces  of  crimson,  purple,  and  other  colors 
being  sewed  together.  Jackets  are  sometimes  embroidered  with  gold  and 
gilk  of  various  colors.  It  is  believed  that  a  child  thus  clad  will  be  saved 


from  evil  spirits,  since  the  attention  of  the  spirits  will  be  diverted  from  the 
child  by  the  beauty  of  the  garment.  There  is  no  evidence  of  any  such 
superstition  in  the  case  of  Jacob.  It  was  merely  an  instance  of  parental 


XXXVII,  24.  They  took  him,  and  east  him  into  a  pit:  and  the 
pit  was  empty,  there  was  no  water  in  it. 

There  are  numerous  pits  or  cisterns  still  to  be  found  in  Palestine.  They 
are  often  hewn  out  of  the  solid  rock,  and,  being  narrower  at  the  mouth  than 
at  the  bottom,  it  is  not  an  easy  thing-  to  get  out  unaided,  if  one  should  be  so 
unfortunate  as  to  get  in.  Dr.  Thomson  mentions  the  case  of  an  acquaint 
ance  who  fell  into  one  of  these  pits,  or  empty  cisterns,  and,  being  unable  to 
extricate  himself;  passed  two  dreadful  days  and  nights  before  he  was  dis 
covered  and  drawn  out,  more  dead  than  alive. 

These  cisterns,  when  dry,  were  sometimes  used  as  dungeons  for  prison 
ers,  and  thus  Joseph's  brethren  put  him  into  one.  The  prophet  Jeremiah 
was  also  imprisoned  in  a  cistern  which  had  been  dug  in  the  court-yard  of 
the  prison.  See  Jer.  xxxviii,  6,  where  the  word  bor  is  translated  "dun 
geon."  This  is  the  same  word  that  in  the  text  is  rendered  "pit."  and  in 
some  other  places  "  cistern." 

See  also  Jer.  xiv,  3,  Zech.  ix,  11,  and  the  note  on  Jer.  ii,  13. 


XXXVII,  25.  They  sat  down  to  eat  bread:  and  they  lifted  up 
their  eyes  and  looked,  and,  behold,  a  company  of  Ishmaelites 
came  from  Gilead,  with  their  camels  bearing  spieery  and  balm 
and  myrrh,  going  to  carry  it  down  to  Egypt. 

This  was  a  caravan  of  Arabian  merchants  on  their  way  to  Egypt  with 
such  drugs  as  the  Egyptians  nsed  for  embalming  and  for  medicinal  pur 
poses.  The  Egyptians  depended  on  these  itinerant  Arab  merchants  for 
their  supplies  of  this  nature.  See  note  on  James  iv,  13.  The  mode  of  travel 
ing  in  a  caravan  is  peculiar.  Pitts  describes  it  as  he  saw  it  in  the  great  car 
avan  which  was  journeying  to  Mecca  on  a  religious  pilgrimage.  It  was  un 
doubtedly  longer  than  this  commercial  caravan,  yet  this  was  probably  ar 
ranged  on  a  similar  plan.  "They  travel  four  camels  abreast,  which  are 
all  tied  one  after  the  other,  like  as  in  teams.  The  whole  body  is  called  a 
caravan,  which  is  divided  into  several  cottors,  or  companies,  each  of  which 
hath  its  name,  and  consists,  it  may  be,  of  eeveral  thousand  camels:  and 
they  move,  one  cottor  after  another,  like  distinct  troops." — Religion  and  Man 
ners  of  the  Mahometans,  p.  43r>.  He  also  states  that  the  camels  have  bella 
about  their  necks,  which,  with  the  singing  of  the  camel  drivers,  who  travel 


18. — CAKAYAN. 

on  foot,  make  pleasant  music.  Though  there  is  great  confusion  at  the  set 
ting  out  of  a  caravan,  its  different  companies  and  divisions  soon  settle  down 
into  a  condition  of  order. 

The  caravan  is  also  referred  to  in  Isa.  xxi,  13,  Luke  ii,  44. 


XXXVII,    S4.      Jacob    rent    his    clothes,    and    put  saekeloth    upon 
his  loins,  and  mourned  for  his  son   many  days. 

1.  Rending  the  clothes  as  a  token  of  grief  is  a  very  ancient  custom,  and 
is  often  referred  to  in  the  Bible.     See  Josh,  vii,  6;  1  Sam.  iv,  12;  2  Sam. 
i,  11;  iii,  31;   xiii,  31;    2  Kings  ii,  12;  xviii,  37;  xix,  1;   Ezra  ix,  3;  Job 
i,  20.     A  Jewish  writer,  quoted  by  Burder.  says  that  this  ceremony  was  per 
formed  in  the  following  manner:   "They  take  a  knife,  and  holding  the  blade 
downward,  do  give  the  upper  garment  a  cut  on  the  right  side,  and  then 
rend  it  a  hand's  breadth.     This  is  done  for  the  five  following  relations, 
Brother,  sister,  son,  daughter,  or  wife;  but  for  father  or  mother  the  rent  is 
on  the  left  side,  and  in  all  the  garments." — Oriental  Cttstoms.  No.  05. 

2.  Sackcloth  is  also  frequently  mentioned.     It  was  generally  made  of  the 
hair  of  goats  or  of  camels,  and  was   coarse  and  black.     It  was  used  for 
straining  liquid?,  for  sacks,  and  for  mourning  garments.      "When  used  for 

Genesis.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  45 

mourning  it  was  sometimes  worn  next  to  the  skin,  which  it  must  "Tin  ve 
chafed  by  its  harshness,  and  at  other  times  it  was  hung  like  a  sack  over  the 
outer  garments,  or  instead  of  them.  A  girdle  of  similar  material  confined  its 
loose  folds.  Ahab,  on  one  occasion,  appears  to  have  worn  sackcloth  next 
to  his  skin  all  night.  See  1  Kings  xxi,  27.  In  Rev.  vi,  12.  in  the  darkness 
accompanying  an  earthquake,  the  sun  is  said  to  have  become  "  as  black  as 
sackcloth  of  hair." 


XXXVII,  86.  The  Midianites  sold  him  into  Egypt  unto  Potiphar, 
an  officer  of  Pharaoh's,  and  captain  of  the  guard. 

Literally,  "  captain  of  the  executioners."  He  was  responsible  for  the  safe 
keeping  of  state  prisoners,  and  for  the  execution  of  sentence  upon  them.  In 
cases  of  treason  he  sometimes  executed  the  sentence  himself.  He  was  the 
official  guardian  of  the  person  of  the  king— the  chief  of  his  body-guard. 

The  king  of  Babylon  had  a  similar  officer  in  his  service.  See  2  Kings 
xxv,  8;  Jer.  xxxix,  13;  Dan.  ii,  14.  In  the  ruins  of  the  hall  of  judgment 
of  the  palace  at  Khorsabad,  Assyria,  there  is  on  the  wall  a  representation  of 
a  naked  man  with  limbs  stretched  out,  and  arms  and  ankles  fastened  to  the 
floor  or  table,  while  a  tall,  bearded  man  is  in  the  act  of  flaying  him  alive. 
This  is  supposed  to  be  "  the  chief  of  the  executioners  "  engaged  at  his  horrid 
work;  and  some  commentators  interpret  the  expression  "cut  in  pieces,"  in 
Dan.  iii,  29,  to  refer  to  this  act  of  flaying  alivo.  See  also  Micah  iii,  3. 

72.— PRISONS. 

XL,  8.  He  put  them  in  ward  in  the  house  of  the  captain  of  the 
guard,  into  the  prison,  the  place  where  Joseph  was  bound. 

According  to  the  Eastern  custom,  the  state-prison  formed  a  part  of  the 
dwelling-house  of  the  chief  of  the  executioners,  or  of  some  other  prominent 
personage.  See  Jer.  xxxvii,  15.  Sometimes  even  the  king's  palace  was  to 
used.  See  Jer.  xxxii,  2. 

73.— USE   OF   WINE. 

XL,  11.  Pharaoh's  cup  was  in  my  hand  :  and  I  took  the 
grapes,  and  pressed  them  into  Pharaoh's  oup,  and  I  gave  the 
cup  into  Pharaoh's  hand. 

It  has  been  supposed  by  some  that  the  ancient  Egyptians  drank  no  wine, 
though  they  did  not  object  to  drinking  the  unfermented  juice  of  the  grape, 
and  this  text  is  referred  to  as  an  illustration.  It  was  evidently  a  part  of  the 
duty  of  Pharaoh's  butler  to  press  the  grapes  into  the  oup  that  the  king 
might  drink;  but  it  by  no  moans  follows  that  because  of  this  no  fermented 
wine  was  used.  A  passage  in  Herodotus  is  usually  cited  as  an  evidence 
that  only  fresh  must  was  allowed.  On  the  other  hand,  there  is  other  ancient 

46  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 

testimony  that  establishes  the  fact  that  the  Egyptians  used  fermented  wine. 
This  testimony  is  corroborated  by  the  old  monuments,  which  have  representa 
tions  of  different  articles  employed  in  making  wine,  wine-presses  in  operation, 
and  drunken  men  and  women. 


XL,  16.  I  also  was  in  my  dream,  and,  behold,  I  had  three 
white  baskets  on  my  head. 

It  is  quite  common  in  the  East  to  carry  burdens  on  the  head.  Thus  the 
head  and  neck  become  so  strong  that  it  is  not  uncommon  for  a  man  to  carry 
a  weight  which  requires  the  united  strength  of  three  men  to  lift  from  the 
ground.  Women  and  children,  as  well  as  men,  carry  loads  in  this  way.  In 
ancient  Egypt  only  men  carried  burdens  on  the  head.  The  women  carried 
them  on  the  shoulder.  See  note  on  Gen.  xxi,  14. 


XL,  20.  It  came  to  pass  the  third  day,  which  was  Pharaoh's 
birthday,  that  he  made  a  feast  unto  all  his  servants. 

The  Eastern  kings  celebrated  their  birthdays  by  holding  feasts  and  grant 
ing  pardon  to  offenders.  On  the  occasion  referred  to  in  the  text  the  king 
availed  himself  of  this  custom  to  pardon  the  chief  butler;  although,  for  some 
reason  not  stated,  he  refused  to  grant  the  same  clemency  to  the  chief  baker. 

See  also  Matt,  xiv,  6;  Mark  vi,  21. 

XLI,  8.    He  sent  and  called  for  all  the   magicians  of  Egypt. 

These  magicians  (chartummim)  were  an  order  of  Egyptian  priests  who 
understood  the  sacred  hieroglyphic  writings.  They  cultivated  a  knowledge 
of  art  and  science,  interpreted  dreams,  practiced  soothsaying  and  divination, 
and  were  supposed  to  possess  secret  arts.  They  were  men  of  great  influence 
in  Egypt,  much  esteemed,  and  highly  honored.  They  were  applied  to  for 
direction  and  assistance  on  all  subjects  outside  the  ordinary  range  of  knowl 
edge.  Hence  Pharaoh  sent  for  them  when  he  desired  an  interpretation  of 
his  strange  dreams.  Moses  in  after  years  met  this  same  class  of  men. 
Exod.  vii,  11,  22,  The  same  term  is  applied  to  the  magicians  in  Babylon. 
Dan.  i,  20;  ii,  2. 


XLI,  14.  Pharaoh  sent  and  called  Joseph,  and  they  brought 
him  hastily  out  of  the  dungeon  :  and  he  shaved  himself. 

Contrary  to  the  custom  of  the  Hebrews  and  other  Orientals,  the  Egyptians 
Bhaved  closely,  only  allowing  the  beard  to  grow  as  a  sign  of  mourning;  thus 

Genesis.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  4< 

reversing  the  custom  of  the  Hebrews,  who  shaved  as  a  token  of  mourning. 
See  note  on  Isaiah  xv,  2.  Strange  to  say,  the  Egyptians,  while  so  caiet'ul 
to  shave  the 
beard,  sometimes 
fastened  false 
beards  to  the 
chin.  These  were 
made  of  plaited 
hair,  and  were  of 
different  shapes 
and  sizes,  accord 
ing  to  the  rank  of 

the  wearer. 

,  ..  14. — EGYPTIAN   BARKERS. 

Joseph,  while 

in  prison,  allowed  his  beard  to  grow;  now  that  he  is  released  he  shaves,  ac 
cording  to  the  Egyptian  custom,  as  it  would  have  been  a  disgrace  for  him 
to  appear  with  a  beard  in  the  presence  of  the  king. 


XLI,  41.  Pharaoh  said  unto  Joseph,  See,  I  have  set  thee  over 
all  the  land,  of  Egypt. 

This  elevation  of  a  slave  to  a  position  of  high  office,  though  uncommon 
among  Western  nations,  was  not  so  rare  in  the  East.  There,  change  of 
fortune  was  so  sudden  that  the  beggar  of  to-day  might  be  the  noble  of  to 
morrow.  Many  of  the  most  prominent  characters  in  Oriental  history  were 
once  slaves.  The  history  of  Joseph  has  in  this  respect  often  been  paralleled. 
A  most  curious  illustration  of  this  is  given  by  Harmer  in  his  account  of 
AH  Bey,  who  was  stolen  from  his  native  place  in  Lesser  Af-ia,  near  the 
Black  Sea,  in  1T41,  when  he  was  thirteen  years  old,  and  was  carried  into 
Egypt,  where,  after  varied  fortunes,  he  reached  a  position  next  in  power  to 
the  Pasha.— Observations,  vol.  ii,  p.  520. 


XLI,  42.  Pharaoh  took  off  his  ring  from  his  hand,  and  put 
it  upon  Joseph's  hand,  and  arrayed  him  in  vestures  of  fine 
linen,  and  put  a  gold  chain  about  his  neek. 

1.  Great  importance  was  attached  to  the  signet  ring,  which  contained  the 
owner's  name,  and  the  impression  of  which  was  of  the  same  validity  as  a 
written  signature  is  among  us.  Hence  the  gift  of  this  royal  signet  ring  was 
a  transfer  of  royal  authority  to  Joseph.  Thus  Ahasuerus  gave  his  ring  to 
Haman,  and  the  document  which  Hainan  signed  with  it  was  considered  as 
coming  from  the  king.  Esther  Hi,  10-12.  The  same  ring  was  afterward 




given  to  Mordecai,  who  used  it  in  the  same  way.  Esther  viii,  2,  8,  10.  The 
importance  attached  to  the  signet  ring  are  referred  to  in  Jeremiah 
xxii,  24,  and  in  Haggai  ii,  23.  Some  valuable  speci 
mens  of  ancient  signet  rings  have  been  found  by 
Mitiquaries.  One  of  the  most  remarkable  of  these 
is  now  in  the  Abbott  Collection  of  Egyptian 
Antiquities,  in  the  Museum  of  the  New  York 
Historical  Society.  It  is  in  most  excellent  pres 
ervation  and  of  very  high  antiquity,  bearing  the 
iiaiue  of  Shoofoo,  the  Suphis  of  the  Greeks,  who 
reigned  before  the  time  of  Joseph.  It  was  found 
in  a  tomb  at  Gizeh,  and  is  of  fine  gold,  weigh 
ing  nearly  three  sovereigns. 

For  description  of  other  kinds   of    seals   see 
note  on  1  Kings  xxi,  8. 

2.  The  line  (or,    literally,  white)  linen   rotes 
were  worn  by   the  Egyptian  priests,  which   fact 
has  given   some  occasion  to  think  that   Joseph 
was    received  into  the  caste  of  priests,   which 
was  of  the  highest  rank  in  Egypt,  as  it  was  the 
one  to  which  the  king  himself  belonged. 

3.  The  gold  chain  was  another  mark  of  dis 
tinction,   since  none  but  persons  of  high  rank 
were  permitted  to  wear  such  ornaments.     There 

is  in  the  Abbott  Collection  a  gold  necklace  which  has  on  it  the  name  of  Meues, 
the  first  Pharaoh  of  Egypt,  and  who  reigned  several  hundred  years  before 
Shoofoo.  The  necklace  has  a  pair  of  ear-rings  to  match.  The  signet  and  the 
necklace  are  no  doubt  similar  in  general  appearance  to  those  with  which 
Joseph  was  invested.  See  also  note  on  Sol.  Song  i,  10. 

XLI,  48.    He   made   him   to   ride    in   the    second    chariot    which 
he  had  ;    and  they  cried   before  him,   Bow  the  knee. 

1.  The  "second  chariot"  was  either  the  one  which  followed  immediately 
after  the  king's  -in  state  processions,  or  it  was  an  extra  chariot  used  by  the 
king  as  a  reserve  in  case  of  emergency.     See  2  Chron.  xxxv,  24. 

2.  The  streets  of  modern  Egyptian  cities  are   so  narrow  that  when  an 
ordinary  carriage  passes  through  them  it  is  customary  to  have  an  usher  run 
before  it  to  warn  the  people  to  get  out  of  the  way.     In  the  case  of  Joseph, 
the  command  was  to  prostrate  themselves,  as  they  would  do  in  the  presence 
of  royalty  itself. 






XLI,  48.  He  gathered  up  all  the  food  of  the  seven  years, 
which  were  in  the  land  of  Egypt,  and  laid  up  the  food  in  the 

Granaries  were  often  very  extensive  in  Egypt,  and  every  facility  was 
made  for  the  housing  and  subsequent  delivery  of  the  grain.  The  monuments 
have  many  illustrations  of  the  different  styles  of  store-houses  that  were  in 
use,  by  which  we  can  obtain  some  idea  of  the  manner  in  which  the  ancient 
Egyptians  received  and  delivered  their  grain.  Some  of  these  store-houses 


were  evidently  low  flat-roofed  buildings,  divided  into  rooms  or  vaults,  into 
which  the  grain  was  poured  from  bags.  Similar  structures  were  also  used  in 
Palestine,  though -we  have  no  detailed  account  of  the  mode  in  which  they 
were  arranged.  The  Romans  sometimes  built  store-houses  for  grain  on 
stone  pillars.  The  "barns"  mentioned  in  Luke  xii,  18,  were  evidently 
above  ground,  since  they  were  to  be  pulled  down.  Subterranean  store 
houses  were  also  common  in  the  East.  See  note  on  Jer.  xli,  8. 


XLII,  25.  Joseph  commanded  to  fill  their  sacks  with  corn, 
and  to  restore  every  man's  money  into  his  sack. 

The  sacks  (keleihem)  which  were  filled  with  corn,  and  the  sack  (snk) 
which  had  the  money  put  into  it,  are  supposed  to  have  been  of  two  dif 
ferent  kinds.  The  latter  is  thought  to  have  been  a  bag  for  holding  tl-e 
provender  for  the  journey;  while  the  former  (more  properly  rendered  vessels 
than  sacks)  were  larger,  and  were  filled  with  the  grain  that  they  were 
carrying  to  Canaan. 

50  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 


XL11I,  16.  Bring  these  men  home,  and  slay,  and  make  ready  ; 
for  these  men  shall  dine  with  me  at  noon. 

The  ancient  Egyptians  bad  the  boasts  they  desired  for  food  slaughtered  in 
the  court-yard  of  the  dwelling.  While  the  monuments  give  representations 
of  poulterers'  shops,  they  do  not  show  any  shops  for  the  sale  of  butchers' 
meat,  but  represent  the  slaying,  in  private  houses,  of  quadrupeds  intended 
for  food.  The  cause  of  this  is  not  positively  known.  As  poultry,  fish,  and 
vegetables  formed  the  principal  food  of  the  people,  it  may  be  that  there  was 
not  sufficient  demand  for  the  flesh  of  beasts  to  warrant  the  establishing  of 
butcher-shops,  such  flesh  perhaps  being  reserved  for  great  feasts.  The 
slaughter  of  animals  for  the  table  is  a  common  subject  of  representa 
tion  on  these  monuments.  The  four  legs  of  the  animal  were  tied  together, 
and  it  was  then  thrown  to  the  ground.  Here  it  was  held  by  assistants 
while  the  butcher  cut  the  throat  from  ear  to  ear.  The  blood  was  caught  in 
vessels,  and  set  aside  for  food.  The  animal  was  then  flayed,  and  dressed, 
and  cut  into  pieces,  which  were  carried  in  trays  to  the  kitchen,  where  the 
cook  immediately  began  to  get  them  ready  for  the  table.  In  this  text  we 
find  Joseph  issuing  his  orders  to  "  slay  and  make  ready  "  for  the  noon- 
dinner;  so  that  not  much  time  elapsed  between  the  slaughter  of  the  victims 
and  their  appearance  on  the  tables  ready  for  eating.  See  also  1  Sam. 
xxviii,  24. 


XLIII,  29.  Is  this  your  younger  brother,  of  whom  ye  spake 
unto  me?  And  he  said,  God  be  gracious  unto  thee,  nay  son. 

This  is  not  a  benediction,  but  one  of  the  numerous  forms  of  Oriental  salu 
tation  used  in  meeting  or  in  taking  leave  of  an  acquaintance. 


XLIII,  31.  He  washed  his  face,  and  went  out,  and  refrained 
himself,  and  said,  Set  on  bread. 

Orientals  in  general  are  great  eaters  of  bread.  It  has  been  computed  that 
three  persons  in  four  live  entirely  upon  it,  or  else  upon  such  compositions 
as  are  made  of  barley  or  wheat  flour.  No  doubt  the  term  "  bread  "  was  ofien 
used  to  denote  food  in  general;  but  this  was  because  bread  was  more 
generally  used  than  any  other  article  of  diet.  When  Joseph's  brethren  had 
cast  him  into  the  pit,  "they  sat  down  to  eat  bread."  Gen.  xxxvii,  25. 
When  Moses  was  in  Midian  he  was  invited  to  "eat  bread."  Exod.  ii,  20. 
The  witch  of  En-dor  "  set  a  morsel  of  bread  "  before  Saul  and  his  servants. 
1  Sam.  xxviii.  22-'25. 





XLIII,  32.  They  set  on  for  him  by  himself,  and  for  them 
by  themselves,  and.  for  the  Egyptians,  which  did  eat  with 
him,  by  themselves :  because  the  Egyptians  might  not  eat 
bread  with  the  Hebrews;  for  that  is  an  abomination  unto 
the  Egyptians. 

1.  The    Egyptian    tables   were  placed  along  the  sides  of  the  room,   the 
guests  having-  their   faces  toward  the  wall.     In  this  case  Josfph  probably 
sat  at  one  end  of  the  hall  and  his  brethren  at  the  other  end,  (they  "sat 
before  him,"  verse  33,)  while  the  Egyptians  sat  on  either  side.     The  ancient 
Egyptian  table  v  as  a 

round  tray  fixed  on 
a  pillar  or  leg,  which 
was  often  in  the  form 
of  a  man,  usually  a 
captive,  who  was  rep 
resented  as  holdii  g 
the  burden  of  the  ta 
ble  on  his  Lead  and 
shoulder  •<.  The  em  ire 
structure  was  of  stone 
or  of  some  hard  wood. 
These  tables  were 
sometimes  brought  in 
and  removed  with  the 
dishes  upon  them. 
One  or  two  guests  sat 
at  each  table. 

2.  The    Egyptians 
Considered  all  foreign 
ers  unclean.  KoEg}rp- 
tian  would  consent  to 

kiss  a  Greek,    nor  to  17.— MODERN  EGYPTIANS  AT  DINNER. 

use  any  culinary  utensil  which  belonged  to  one,  nor  to  eat  the  flesh  of  any 
animal,  even  though  a  clean  animal,  which  had  been  cut  up  with  a  Grecian 
knife.  This  was  because  foreigners  ate  animals  which  the  Egyptians  re 
garded  either  as  unclean  or  as  sacred.  The  Hebrews,  for  instance,  slaught 
ered  and  ate  the  cow,  which  was  sacred  in  the  eyes  of  the  Egyptians,  and 
by  them,  on  that  account,  exempt  from  slaughter.  For  this  reason  the 
representatives  of  the  two  nations  could  not  eat  together.  Joseph  ate  by 
himself  because  he  belonged  to  a  higher  caste  than  the  Egyptians  around 
'ji'm.  and  was  above  them  all  in  social  rank. 

52  BIBLE    MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 


XLIII,  83.    They  sat    before    him,  the  first-born  according  to  his 
birthright,    and  the  youngest  according  to   his  youth. 

1    The  Egyptians  sat  at  their  meals;    reclining  was  a   Persian  custom 
brought  in  at  a  later  age.     See  note  on  Matt,  xxvi,  7.     They  used   chairs 
of  various  kinds,   and   stools,  and  sometimes  sat  on  the  floor  with  the  le 
leg  drawn  under  them  and  the  right  foot  planted  on  the  floor,  thus  elevating 
the  right  knee. 

2.  The  guests  were  placed  according  to  the  rank  they  occupied.    1 
not  imply  the  use  of  long  tables,  since  even  at  the  present  day  there  are 
posts  of  iionor  at  the  round  tables  of  the  modern  Egyptians. 


XLIII    34      He  took  and    sent   messes   unto    them    from    before 
him:   'but    Benjamin's  mess    was    five    times   so    much   as 
of   theirs. 

1  The  ancient  Egyptian  mode  of  dining  seems  to  have  resembled  the 
Persian  rather  than  the  Turkish.  Different  kinds  of  food  were  taken  from 
the  large  dishes  on  which  the  cook  had  placed  them,  and  were  put  on  one 
smaller  dish  which  was  carried  by  a  servant  to  the  guest.  In  this  instance 
Joseph  saw  that  his  brethren  were  we  1  supplied  from  Irs  own  table. 

2.  Special  respect  was  shown  to  guests  of  distinction  by  sending  them 
some  choice  dainty,  or  a  larger  portion  of  food  than  was  given  to  the  others. 
Thus  Joseph  honored  Benjamin  with  a  five-fold  portion,  which  must  be 
considered  the  greater  honor  when  we  learn  that  a  double  portion  was  re 
garded  sufficiently  complimentary  to  a  king.  In  Joseph's  estimation  his 
brother  Benjamin  was  worth  more  than  two  kings. 

89.— THE    BOWL. 

XLIV,  2.  Put  my  cup,  the  silver  cup,  in  the  sack's  mouth 
of  the  youngest. 

The  gabia,  here  rendered  "cup,"  was  more  properly  a  bowl,  and  was  dis 
tinguished  from  the  Icosoth,  or  smaller  cups,  into  which  the  liquid  was  poured 
from  the  gabia.  The  distinction  is  made  in  Jer.  xxxv,  5,  where  the  two 
words  are  used. 


XLIV,  5.  Is  not  this  it  in  which  my  lord  drinketh,  and  where 
by  indeed  he  divineth? 

The  question  whether  Joseph  actually  practiced  divination,  or  only  pre 
tended  to  do  so.  or  merely  instructed  his  steward  to  ask  an  ironical  question, 
or  whether  the  original  words  may  not  have  a  different  interpretation  from, 




that  which  the  translators  have  put  upon  them,  is  one  which  concerns  the  com 
mentator  rather  than  the  archaeologist.  It  is  an  admitted  fact  that  divining 
cups  were  used  among  the  Egyptians  and  other  nations.  These  cups  bore 
certain  magical  inscriptions,  and  when  used  were  filled  with  pure  water. 
Authorities  all  agree  as  far  as  this,  but  they  differ  as  to  the  use  which  was 


made  of  the  cup  after  the  water  was  poured  into  it.  We  give  the  statements 
of  various  writers,  and  it  is  quite  probable  that  they  are  all  correct,  different 
modes  being  used  at  different  times. 

1.  The  divination  was  performed  by  means  of  the  figures  which  were 
reflected  by  the  rays  of  light  which  were  permitted  to  fall  on  the  water. 
2.  Melted  wax  was  poured  into  the  water,  and  the  will  of  the  gods  was 
interpreted  by  the  variously  shaped  figures  formed  in  this  way.  3.  The 
cup  was  shaken,  and  the  position,  size,  or  number  of  the  bubbles  which  rose 
to  the  surface  was  considered.  4.  There  were  thrown  into  the  water  plates 
of  gold  and  of  silver,  and  precious  stories,  with  magical  characters  engraved 
on  them,  Words  of  incantation  were  muttered.  Then  some  of  the  signs 
engraved  on  the  stones  were  reflected  in  the  water,  or  a  voice  was  supposed 
to  be  heard,  or  the  likeness  of  the  deceased  person  concerning  whom 
the  inquiry  was  made  was  thought  to  appear  in  the  water.  5.  The 

54  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis. 

inquirer  fixed  his  eye  on  some  particular  point  in  the  cup  until  he  was 
thrown  into  a  dream-like  or  clairvoyant  state,  when  he  could  see  things 
strange  and  indescribable. 


XLV,  2.  He  wept  aloud:  and  the  Egyptians  and  the  house 
Of  Pharaoh  heard. 

In  the  East  emotions  of  joy  as  well  as  of  sorrow  are  expressed  by  loud 
cries.  Sir  John  Chardin  (cited  by  Harmer,  Observations,  vol.  iii,  p.  17)  says, 
"Their  sentiments  of  joy  or  of  grief  are  properly  transports;  and  their* 
transports  are  ungoverned,  excessive,  and  truly  outrageous."  He  also 
states  that  when  any  one  returns  from  a  long  journey  his  family  burst  into 
cries  that  may  be  heard  twenty  doors  off.  In  like  manner  Joseph  and  his 
brethren,  in  their  joy  at  meeting,  indulged  in  excessive  weeping. 


XLV,  19.  Take  you  wagons  out  of  the  land  of  Egypt  for  your 
little  ones,  and  for  your  wives,  and  bring  your  father,  and 

Wilkinson  supposes  these  wagons  to  have  been  similar  to  the  war 
chariots,  but  with  the  sides  closed.  They  had  wheels  with  six  spokes,  and 
were  drawn  by  oxen,  which  were  harnessed  the  same  as  horses  for  the  war 
chariots.  In  traveling  the  wagon  was  furnished  with  a  sort  of  umbrella. 
It  is  evident  from  the  narrative  that  wagons  were  at  that  time  strange  in 
Canaan.  The  sight  of  these  Egyptian  conveyances  confirmed  to  the  mind  of 
Jacob  the  statement  of  his  sons.  See  verse  27.  Rosenmuller  aptly  sug 
gests  that  Egypt  was  more  likely  than  Canaan  to  develop  the  idea  of  a  wagon, 
because  it  was  a  great  plain. — Morgenland,  vol.  i,  p.  212. 


XLV,  22.  To  all  of  them  he  gave  each  man  changes  of  rai 
ment  ;  but  to  Benjamin  he  gave  three  hundred  pieces  of 
silver,  and  five  changes  of  raiment. 

Presents  of  costly  and  beautiful  garments  are  among  the  modes  of  compli 
menting  in  use  by  the  Orientals.  Since  the  fashions  of  dress  do  not  change 
as  with  us,  these  gifts  are  valuable  as  long  as  they  last.  These  <;  changes 
of  raiment "  were  designed  to  be  worn  on  special  occasions.  Other  biblical 
references  are  made  to  this  custom  of  presenting  gifts  of  clothing.  Samson 
offered  raiment  to  any  who  should  guess  his  riddle.  Judges  xiv,  12,  13,  19. 
When  Naaman  visited  Elisha  he  took  with  him,  among  other  gifts,  "ten 
changes  of  raiment."  2  Kings  v,  5.  Even  Solomon  did  not  disdain  to 
receive  such  presents.  2  Chron.  ix,  24.  Daniel  was  clothed  with  scarlet  as 
a  reward  for  interpreting  the  king's  dream.  Dan.  v,  29.  It  is  said  of  an 

Genesis.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  55 

illustrious  Oriental  poet  of  the  ninth  century,  that  he  had  so  many  presents 
made  him  during  his  life-time  that  at  his  death  he  had  one  hundred  com 
plete  suits  of  clothes,  two  hundred  shirts,  and  five  hundred  turbans.  The 
Hindoos,  at  the  close  of  a  feast,  commonly  give  to  each  guest  a  present  of 
new  garments.  See  also  the  notes  on  1  Sam.  xix,  24;  Esther  vi,  8;  and 
Job  xxvii,  16. 

XLVI,  4.    Joseph   shall  put  his   hand   upon   thine   eyes. 

It  was  an  ancient  custom  that  the  nearest  of  kin  should  close  the  eyes  of 
a  deceased  person,  and  give  a  parting  kiss  to  the  corpse.  It  was  a  comfort 
ing  assurance  to  Jacob  that  his  beloved  Joseph,  whom  he  had  for  many 
years  mourned  as  dead,  should  perform  this  filial  office  for  him.  At  Jacob's 
death  we  are  told  that  Joseph  kissed  him,  (Gen.  1,  ],)  and  it  is  to  be  presumed 
that  he  also  closed  the  eyes  of  the  patriarch,  as  God  had  promised. 


XLVI,  34.  Every  shepherd  is  an  abomination  unto  the 

Frequent  illustrations  of  the  contempt  iu  which  the  Egyptians  held  shep 
herds  are  seen  on  the  ancient  monuments:  the  shepherds  "being  invariably 
represented  as  lank,  withered,  distorted,  emaciated  specimens  of  humanity. 
Concerning  the  cause  of  this  feeling  there  are  different  opinions.  It  is  certain 
that  cattle  were  not  by  any  means  considered  unclean  by  the  Egyptians : 
The  cow  was  sacred  to  Isis,  and  oxen  were  used  for  food  and  for  labor ;  it 
is  not  likely,  therefore,  that  taking  care  of  them  could  have  been  considered 
polluting.  The  objection  was  not  to  the  tending  of  cattle— which  in  itself  is 
as  necessary  as  the  cultivation  of  the  soil— but  rather  to  the  vagrant  mode 
of  life  to  which  the  shepherds  were  addicted,  and  which  was  opposed  to  the 
designs  and  policy  of  the  ruling  caste.  When  the  foundations  of  the  state 
rested  on  agriculture  the  Egyptians  associated  rudeness  and  barbarism  with 
the  name  of  shepherd. 

Besides  this,  Egypt  had  at  one  time  been  invaded  by  a  horde  of  wanderin* 
shepherds,  descended  from  Gush.  They  established  themselves  in  the 
country  and  had  a  succession  of  kings.  They  fought  the  Egyptians  burned 
some  of  their  principal  cities,  committed  great  cruelties,  and  were  not  driven 
out  until  they  and  their  descendants  had  occupied  the  country  for  hundreds 
of  years.  Some  suppose  that  their  expulsion  took  place  only  a  short  time 
oefore  Joseph's  day. 

Joseph  skillfully  availed  himself  of  this  well-known  Egyptian  hatred  of  shop, 
herds  for  the  purpose  of  having  his  brethren  settled  in  a  rich  pastoral  region 
and  isolated  from  the  native  Egyptians,  thus  keeping  them  a  peculiar  people' 

56  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Genesis 


XLIX,  8.    Thy  hand    shall  be  in  the   neck  of  thine   enemies. 

This  expression  is  intended  to  denote  superiority  and  triumph.  Job 
makes  use  of  a  similar  figure  where  he  represents  God  as  taking  him  by  the 
neck  and  shaking  him  to  pieces.  Job  xvi,  12.  David  says,  "  Thou  hast  also 
given  me  the  necks  of  mine  enemies."  2  Sam.  xxii,  41;  Psalm  xviii,  40. 
Jeremiah,  lamenting  the  desolations  of  his  people,  says,  u  Our  necks  are 
under  persecution."  Lam.  v,  5.  The  ancient  Franks  had  a  custom  of  put 
ting  the  arm  around  the  neck  as  a  mark  of  superiority.  An  insolvent  debtor 
gave  himself  up  to  his  creditor  as  a  slave,  and  as  a  token  of  submission  he 
took  the  arm  of  his  new  master  and  put  it  around  his  neck. 

Compare  notes  on  Josh,  x,  24,  and  1  Cor.  xv,  25. 


XLIX,  12.     His  teeth  white  with   milk. 

This  is  meant  to  represent  the  pastoral  wealth  of  Judah.  Milk  is,  in  the 
East,  a  very  important  and  highly  valued  article  of  diet.  In  India  it  is 
sometimes  said  of  a  rich  man,  "  He  has  abundance  of  milk."  A  saying 
somewhat  similar  to  this,  but  more  closely  resembling  the  text,  is  applied  to 
one  who  has  a  plentiful  supply  of  milk:  "His  mouth  smells  of  milk." 


L,  2.  8.  Joseph  commanded  his  servants  the  physicians  to  em 
balm  his  father:  and  the  physicians  embalmed  Israel.  And 
forty  days  were  fulfilled  for  him  ;  for  so  are  fulfilled  the  days 
of  those  which  are  embalmed :  and  the  Egyptians  mourned 
for  him  threescore  and  ten  days. 

1.  Among  the  ancient  Egyptians  there  were  numerous  classes  of  physi 
cians,  divided  according  to  the  various  diseases  which  were  their  special  sub 
jects  of  study.     They  were  not  general  practitioners,  but  specialists ;  hence 
their  number   was   large.     Joseph   had   them   among   his   retainers.     The 
Taricheuta,  who  superintended  the  process  of  embalming, were  included  among 
physicians  as  a  special  but  subordinate  class.     They,  in  common  with  the 
higher  class  of  physicians,  belonged  to  the  sacerdotal  order. 

2.  There  were  different  processes  of  embalming,  varying  according  to  the 
means  at  the  disposal  of  the  family  of  the  deceased.     The  most  expensive 
(and  doubtless  the  mode  by  which  Jacob  and  Joseph  were  embalmed)  is 
estimated  to  have  cost  what  would*be  equivalent  to  about  twelve  hundred 
and  fifty  dollars  of  our  money.     Preparatory  to  this  process,  the  I  rain  was 
removed  by  means  of  a  crooked  wire  inserted  through  the  nose.     An  incis 
ion  was  then  made  in  the  left  side  of  the  abdomen  with  a  stone  knife,  the 




use  of  metal  not  being  permitted.*  Through  this  incision  the  viscera  were 
drawn,  with  the  exception  of  the  heart  and  kidneys.  They  were  sometimes 
replaced  after  being  prepared  for  preservation,  and  in  other  instances  were 
put  into  vases.  Some  authorities  assert  that  they  were  thrown  into  the 
river  Nile ;  but  this  is  denied  by  others. 

After  the  removal  of  the  viscera  the  body  was  carefully  washed  exter 
nally  with  water,  and  internally  with  palm-wine,  oil  of  cedar,  and  other 
antiseptic  preparations.  The  cavities  of  the  head  and  abdomen  were  filled 
with  myrrh,  cassia,  cinnamon,  and  other  aromaiic  substances,  and  the  incis 
ion  ia  the  abdomen  was  sewed  up.  The  body  was  then  steeped  in  a  strong 
infusion  of  niter.  The  time  occupied  by  this  steeping  process  is  variously 
stated  at  thirty,  forty,  and  seventy  days.  It  may  have  varied  at  different 
periods  of  Egyptian  history,  or  in  different  parts  of  the  land  at  the  same 
time.  Some  have  supposed  that  forty  days  were  allowed  for  the  embalming 
proper,  and  thirty  for  the  steeping  in  niter. 

When  this  process  was  completed  the  body  and  limbs  were  carefully 
wrapped  in  bandages  of  fine  linen,  plastered  on  the  underside  with  gum. 
These  bandages  were  seven  or  eight  inches  in  width,  and  were  sometimes 
six  or  seven  hundred  feet  long.  At  this  stage  of  the  process  the  body  seems 
to  have  been  in  some  way  subjected  to  extreme  1  eat,  precisely  how  is  not 


known.  Some  have  conjectured  that  it  was  soaked  in  pitch,  boiling  hot; 
others  that  it  was  put  into  a  stove  or  oven.  That  extreme  heat  was  applied 
in  some  way  is  evident  from  the  charred  bandages  and  from  the  appearance 
of  the  bones. 

*  Three  of  these  ancient  stone  knives  aro  now  in  the  Abbott  collection,  and  also  a  saucer 
containing  a  gmy  embalming  powder. 


Layers  of  cloth,  plastered  with  lime  on  the  inside,  were  next  placed  on  the 
body  in  a  damped  condition,  fitting  exactly  to  its  shape,  These  laj'ers  were 
put  on  in  sufficient  numbers  to  make  a  thick  case,  which,  when  it  was  fin 
ished,  was  taken  off  until  it  became  hardened,  when  it  was  replaced,  and 
sewed  up  at  the  back.  It  was  painted  and  ornamented  witli  various  figures, 
and  in  many  instances  was  gilded.  The  part  immediately  over  the  face  was 
made  to  resemble,  as  near  as  possible,  the  features  of  the  deceased.  The 
whole  was  then  put  into  another  case  made  of  sycamore  or  cedar,  and 
sometimes  ihere  was  in  addition  an  outside  case  made  of  the  same  material, 
or  a  sarcophagus  of  stone. 

It  is  not  positively  known  why  the  Egyptians  embalmed  the  bodies  of 
their  dead.  Some  think  that  they  believed  the  existence  of  the  soul  de 
pended  on  that  of  the  body,  and  hence  desired  to  preserve  the  body  as  long 
as  possible.  Others  suppose  that  they  expected  the  soul  at  some  distant 
future  day  to  return  to  the  body,  and  for  that  reason  wished  to  preserve  the 
body  for  its  reception. 

The  oldest  mummy  known  to  the  civilized  world  is  now  in  the  British 
Museum.  "  It  is  supposed  to  be  that  of  Pharaoh  Mycerinus,  (Menkare,)  of 
the  fourth  dynasty,  the  builder  of  the  third  great  Pyramid  at  Gizeh,  with 
whose  coffin  it  was  found  by  Colonel  Yyse,  in  1837.  What  is  left  of  the 
coffin  lies  close  by;  it  is  unquestionably  a  very  early  piece  of  Egyptian 
work;  wooden  pegs  instead  of  nails  kept  it  together.  Hieroglyphics  are 
still  seen  on  a  portion  of  the  lid  and  on  the  foot-piece;  these,  and  especially 
the  oval  containing  the  name  of  Mycerinus,  have  been  preserved  with  a  fresh 
ness  which  is  only  to  be  accounted  for  by  the  extreme  dryness  of  the  climate 
of  Egypt." — Handy  Book  of  the  British  Museum,  by  T.  Nichols,  p.  145. 

3.  There  is  a  special  significance  in  the  seventy  days'  mourning  for  Jacob 
if  the  custom  at  that  time  were  the  same  as  in  the  days  of  Diodorus  Siculus, 
who  was  iu  Egypt  about  forty  years  before  the  time  of  Christ.  He  says  that 
on  the  death  of  a  king  the  Egyptians  put  on  mourning  apparel  and  closed 
all  their  temples  for  seventy-two  days,  during  which  time  the  embalming 
proceeded.  It  would  seem,  therefore,  that  Pharaoh  ordered  royal  honors  on 
the  occasion  of  the  death  of  his  prime  minister's  father. 

L,  4.    When  the  days  of  his  mourning  were  past,  Joseph  spake 
unto  the  house  of  Pharaoh. 

The  reason  why  Joseph  did  not  himself  prefer  his  request  to  the  king,  but 
solicited  the  intervention  of  his  friends,  is  to  be  found  in  the  fact  that,  having 
allowed  his  hair  and  beard  to  grow  during  the  seventy  days  of  mourning,  he 
was  not  in  a  condition  to  appear  before  Pharaoh  in  the  manner  required  by 
the  et:quette  of  the  court.  See  note  on  Gen.  xli.  14. 

Ge:i)sis.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  59 


L,  9.    There  went   up  with   him  ...  a  very  great  company. 
This  not  only  shows  the  high  esteem  in  which  Joseph  was  held,  but  it 
also  furnishes  an  illustration  of  the  Egyptian  fashion  of  large  and  stately 


funeral  processions.     The  custom  existed  in  every  province  in  Egypt,  and  in 
every  age  of  its  history. 


L,  10.  They  eame  to  the  threshing-floor  of  Atad,  which  is 
beyond  Jordan. 

The  "threshing-floor"  was  not  a  shed,  or  a  building,  or  any  place  covered 
with  roof  and  surrounded  by  walls,  but  a  circular  piece  of  ground  from 
fifty  to  a  hundred  feet  in  diameter,  in  tie  open  air,  on  elevated  ground,  and 
made  smooth,  hardy,  and  clean.  Here  the  grain  was  threshed  and  winnowed. 


L,  26.  So  Joseph  died,  being  a  hundred  and  ten  years  old: 
and  they  embalmed  him,  and  he  was  put  in  a  coffin  in 

Though  so  much  care  was  taken  in  ancient  Egypt  to  embalm  the  body, 
there  were  many  who  were  buried  without  coffins.  The  mention  of  the  fact 
here  that  "Joseph  was  put  in  a  coffin,"  shows  the  high  rank  to  which  he 
had  afained.  His  coffin  was  probably  the  outside  receptacle  or  sarcopha 
gus  described  in  the  note  on  Gen.  1,  2,  3.  Whether  it  was  of  wood  or  of 
stone  we  have  no  means  of  knowing;  the  latter  material  would  more  prob 
ably  be  used  for  so  exalted  a  personage. 




II,  3.    She    took   for   him    an    ark  of    bulrushes,   and    daubed    it 
with  slim,e  and  with  pitch. 

1.  The  precise  form  of  this  little  "  ark  "  is  unknown.     It  may  have  been  a 
basket,  a  boat,  or  a  box.     It  was  made  of  the  leaf  of  the  papyrus,  a  reedy 
plant  which  grew  plentifully  on  the  banks  of  the  Nile,  and  which  was  used 
by  the  Egyptians  for  cordage,  baskets,  boats,  sails,  writing  material,  and  a 
variety  of  other  purposes  ;  even  sometimes  for  food. 

2.  The  "  slime  "  or  bitumen  is  described  in  the  note  on  Gen.  xi,  3.     We  have 
here  an  illustration  of  the  manner  of  its  use.    Though  melting  easily  and  run 
ning  freely,  when  cold  it  is  very  brittle;  but  if  mixed  with  tar  it  becomes  tena 
cious  when  set,  and  makes  a  firm  cement.     In  preparing  the  little  vessel  for 
the  reception  of  the  infant  Moses,  it  is  probable  that  the  papyrus  leaves 
were  first  plaited  together,  and  then  coated  with  a  mixture  of  hot  bitumen 
and  tar,  which  when  cold  became  firm  and  water-proof. 


II,  5.  The  daughter  of  Pharaoh  came  down  to  wash  herself 
at  the  river;  and  her  maidens  walked  along  by  the  river's 

It  would  be  quite  inconsistent  with  modern  Oriental  ideas  of  propriety  for 
women  to  bathe  thus  publicly;  but  among  the  ancient  Egyptians  it  was 
admissible.  Wilkinson  (Anc.  Egypt,  vol.  iii,  p.  389)  gives  a  picture  from 
the  monuments  representing  an  Egyptian  woman  of  rank  oathing,  attended 
by  four  female  servants.  The  Nile  was  regarded  as  a  sacred  river,  and 
divine  honors  were  sometimes  paid  to  it.  Harmer  (Obs.,  vol.  iii,  p.  531)  gives 
a  quotation  from  Irwin's  travels,  in  which  the  traveler  tells  of  a  company  of 
dancing  girls  who  went  down  to  the  Nile  in  the  spring  of  the  year  to  bathe 
in  it,  and  tp  sing  songs  while  marching  along  its  banks,  in  honor  of  the  fact 
that  the  waters  of  the  river  had  begun  their  annual  rise  and  overflow.  It 
may  have  been  some  such  sacred  ceremony  in  which  Pharaoh's  daughter 
and  her  maidens  were  engaged  at  the  time  when  Moses  was  found. 


H,  21.     He  gave  Moses  Zipporah  his   daughter. 

In  general  the  proposal  of  marriage  came  from  the  family  of  the  bride 
groom  ;  but  occasionally  this  custom  was  reversed,  as  in  the  case  referred  to 
in  the  text.  Caleb  gave  his  daughter  Achsah  to  Othniel.  Josh,  xv,  16,  17. 
Saul  gave  IP'S  daughter  Michal  to  David.  1  Sam.  xviii,  27. 





Ill,  1.  Moses  kept  the  flock  of  Jethro  his  father-in-law,  the 
priest  of  Midian  :  and  he  led  the  flock  to  the  back  side  of  the 

In  Arabia  shepherds  do  not  limit  tlie  pasturage  of  their  flocks  to  places 
near  at  home,  but  wander  sometimes  Ions:  distances,  being  gone  from  home 
for  weeks  and  months  in  pursuit  of  new  pasture  grounds.  The  Miclianites 
had  the  principal  place  of  their  residence  somewhere  on  the  eastern  border 
of  Edom,  but  they  pastured  their  flocks  as  far  as  Gilead  and  Bashan  on  the 
north,  and  on  the  south  they  went  along  both  shores  of  the  ^Elanitic  Gulf. 


Ill,  5.     Put     off    thy    shoes     from     off    thy    feet  ;     for     the     place 
whereon  thou  standest  is  holy  ground. 

Orientals  are  as  careful  to  remove  their  slices  or  sandals  before  entering  a 
house,  or  a  place 
of  worship,  as  we 
are  to  remove  our 
hats.  Piles  of  shoes, 
slippers,  or  sandals, 
may  be  seen  at  the 
doors  of  Moham 
medan  mosques 
and  of  Indian  ^^ 
pagodas ;  it  is  a  \j 
mark  of  respect  O£ 
due  to  those  places. 
Moses  was  in  this 
way  directed  to 
show  his  reverence 
for  the  Divine  Pres 
ence.  In  like  man 
ner,  when  Joshua 
me-t  "  the  captain  of 
the  Lord's  host," 
near  Jericho,  he 
was  required  to  re 
move  his  shoes.  Josh,  v,  15.  It  was  so  unusual  a  tiling  to  wear  shoes  in  the 
house  that  on  one  important  occasion  when  it  was  to  be  done  it  was  neces 
sary  especially  to  com rr and  it.  See  note  on  Exod.  xii,  11. 


f)2  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Exodus. 


Ill,  22.  Every  woman  shall  borrow  of  her  neighbor,  and  of 
her  that  sojourneth  in  her  house,  jewels  of  silver,  and  jewels 
of  gold,  and  raiment:  and  ye  shall  put  them  upon  your  sons, 
and  upon  your  daughters  ;  and  ye  shall  spoil  the  Egyptians. 

With  the  controversy  that  has  arisen  among  commentators  in  reference  to 
the  meaning  of  the  borrowing,  the  lending,  and  the  spoiling,  spoken  of  in 
this  text  and  in  Exod.  xi.  1-3;  xii,  35,  36.  we  have  nothing  to  do  in  this 
work.*  We  notice  the  text  only  as  it  has  reference  to  Eastern  customs.  It 
must  be  remembered  that  the  Israelites  were  about  to  go  into  the  wilderness 
to  sacrifice  to  Jehovah.  Roberts  says:  "When  the  Orientals  go  to  their 
sacred  festivals  they  always  put  on  their  best  jewels.  Not  to  appear  before 
the  gods  in  such  a  way  they  consider  would  be  disgraceful  to  themselves 
and  displeasing  to  the  deities.  A  person  whose  clothes  or  jewels  are  in 
different  will  borrow  of  his  richer  neighbors;  and  nothing  is  more  common 
than  to  see  poor  people  standing  before  the  temples,  or  engaged  in  sacred 
ceremonies,  well  adorned  with  jewels." — Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  70. 

If  this  custom  obtained  among  the  ancient  Egyptians,  the  transaction 
recorded  in  the  text  would  be  perfectly  natural. 


V,  7.  "Ye  shall  no  more  give  the  people  straw  to  make  brick, 
as  'heretofore  :  let  them  go  and  gather  straw  for  themselves. 

The  ancient  Egyptian  bricks  were  made  of  clay  moistened  with  water 
and  then  put  into  molds.  After  they  were  sufficiently  dry  to  be  removed 
from  the  molds,  they  were  laid  in  rows  on  a  flat  spot  exposed  to  the  sun, 
which  gradually  hardened  them.  Some  were  made  with  straw  and  some 
without.  Many  had  chopped  barley  and  wheat  straw; 
others  bean  haulm  and  stubble.  The  use  of  this  crude 
brick  was  general  in  Egypt  for  dwellings,  tombs,  and 
ordinary  buildings,  walls  of  towers,  fortresses,  and  sa 
cred  inclosures  of  temples.  Even  temples  of  a  small 
size  were  sometimes  built  of  unburnt  brick,  and  several 
pyramids  of  this  material  are  still  to  be  seen  in  Egypt. 
The  use  of  stone  was  confined  mainly  to  temples,  quays, 
and  reservoirs. 
22.— EGYPTIAN  BRICK.  Egyptian  bricks  were  frequently  stamped  with  the 

*  Those  who  desire  to  see  an  exhaustive  presentation  of  the  various  views  of  commenta 
tors  on  this  subject  may  find  it  in  KURTZ'S  Hixtory  of  the  OM  Covenant,  (Clark's  Foreign 
Theological  Library,)  vol.  ii,  pp.  319-334.  Kurtz's  conclusion  is, "  that  the  articles  wero  not 
obtained  by  borrowing  and  purloining,  but  were  spoils  which  came  to  the  Israelites  in  the 
shape  of  presents,  though  they  were  forced  from  the  Egyptians  by  moral  constraint." 

Exodus.]  BIBLE    MANNERS    ANT)    CUSTOMS.  63 

name  of  the  king  during  whose  reign  they  were  made.  They  differ  in  size 
from  the  Babylonian  bricks.  They  are  from  fourteen  and  a  half  to  twenty 
inches  long,  from  six  and  a  half  to  eight  and  three  quarter  inches  wide, 
and  from  four  and  a  half  to  seven  inches  thick.  Several  bricks  bearing  the 
name  of  Tnothmes  II L,  and  plainly  showing  the  chopped  straw  used  in 
their  manufacture,  are  in  the  Abbott  Collection,  which  also  contains  some 
of  the  ancient  implements  which  were  used  in  brick-making. 


V,  11.  Go  ye,  get  you.  straw  where  ye  can  find  it:  yet  not 
aught  of  your  work  shall  be  diminished. 

M.  Chabas,  a  French  Egyptologist,  discovered  some  years  since  a  papyrus 
the  writing  on  which,  when  deciphered,  proved  to  be  the  report  of  a  scribe, 
to  the  effect  that  twelve  workingmen  who  had  been  employed  at  brick-mak 
ing  had  failed  in  their  tasks,  and  had  therefore  been  appointed  to  harder 
work  as  a  punishment.  There  is  no  evidence  that  these  workmen  were 
Hebrews,  but  the  fact  shows  that  the  cruelty  inflicted  on  the  Hebrews  by 
their  task-masters  was  in  accordance  with  the  customs  of  the  country.  See 
Bibliotlieca  Sacra,  vol.  xxii,  p.  685. 


VII,  19.  ...  upon  the  waters  of  Egypt,  upon  their  streams, 
upon  their  rivers,  and  upon  their  ponds,  and  upon  all  their 
pools  of  water. 

For  purposes  of  irrigation  canals  were  cut  in  various  directions,  and  arti 
ficial  pools  were  made  to  receive  the  waters  of  the  Nile  at  its  annual  over 
flow.  See  notes  on  Deut.  xi,  10,  and  Psa.  i,  3. 


VII,  19.  That  there  may  be  blood  throughout  all  the  land  of 
Egypt,  both  in  vessels  of  wood  and  in  vessels  of  stone. 

These  included  all  the  vessels  in  which  the  Nile  water  was  kept  for  daily 
use,  among  which  were  filtering  pots  of  white  earth.  There  were  also  stone 
reservoirs  at  the  corners  of  the  streets,  and  at  other  places,  for  the  use  of 
the  poor. 

VII,  20.      All    the    waters    that    were    in    the   river    were    turner' 
to    blood. 

1.  Many  ancient  nations  had  great  reverence  for  rivers.     The  Egyptian.-, 
sharing  this  feeling,  regarded  the  Nile  as  a  sacred  stream,  and  worshiped  it 
as  a  deity,  calling  it  "  the  Father  of  life,"  and  "  the  Father  of  the  gods." 

2.  The  Egyptians,  especially  the  priests,  were  very  particular  in  their  ex 
ternal  habits,  and  there  was  nothing  which  they  held  in  greater  abhorrence 


than  blood,  seldom  admitting  any  bloody  sacrifices.  Their  horror  must  there 
fore  have  been  extreme  when  they  found  the  river,  which  they  worshiped 
as  a  god,  turned  into  blood,  which  they  regarded  with  such  -utter  disgust. 

114.— NILE  WATER. 

VII.  21.  The  fish  that  was  in  the  river  died  ;  and  the  river 
stank,  and  the  Egyptians  could  not  drink  of  the  water  of  the 

The  extent  of  this  calamity  will  be  seen  when  it  is  remembered  that  the 
waters  of  the  Nile  were  to  the  Egyptians  then,  as  now,  the  great  source  of 
dependence  for  drinking  and  for  culinary  purposes.  The  spring  water  is 
hard  and  unwholesome,  wells  are  seldom  found,  and  rain  water  cannot  be 
collected  because  it  hardly  ever  rains.  The  inhabitants  are  therefore  driven 
to  the  river,  which  all  travelers  agree  in  saying  furnishes  as  sweet  and 
wholesome  water  as  can  be  found  in  tVe  world.  It  is  at  first  very  thick  and 
muddy,  but  can  be  readily  filtered.  The  Egyptians  say  that  "Nile-water  is 
as  sweet  as  honey  and  sugar."  Great  indeed  must  have  been  the  misfor 
tune  when  this  universal  supply  of  one  of  the  greatest  necessaries  of  life 
was  cut  off. 


IX,  8.      Take  to  you    handfuls  of  ashes  of  the  furnace,   and    let 
Moses  sprinkle  it  toward  the  heaven  in    the  sight  of  Pharaoh. 

"When  the  [East  Indian]  magicians  pronounce  an  imprecation  on  an 
individual,  a  village,  or  a  country,  they  take  ashes  of  cow-dung,  or  those 
from  a  common  fire,  and  throw  them  in  the  air,  saying  to  the  objects  of  their 
displeasure,  '  Such  a  sickness  or  such  a  curse  shall  surely  come  upon  you.' " 
— ROBERTS,  Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  65. 


X,  21.      The    Lord    said    unto    Moses,     Stretch    out    thine    hand 
toward    heaven. 

This  is  the  custom  of  the  Indian  magicians  when  they  deliver  their  pre 
dictions.  It  is  done  to  show  that  they  have  favor  with  their  gods. 


XII,  11.  Thus  shall  ye  eat  it;  with  your  loins  girded,  your 
shoes  on  your  feet,  and  your  staff  in  your  hand;  and  ye 
shall  eat  it  in  haste. 

1.  While  it  would  be  quite  superfluous  to  direct  us  to  have  shoes  on  while 
eating,  ihe  Israelites  would  not  put  them  on  without  being  ordered.  -This 
was  in  accordance  with  the  custom  referred  to  in  the  note  on  Exod.  iii,  5,  q.  v. 
The  reason  for  their  violating  their  ordinary  usage  is  here  given  :  they  were 
in  haste. 

Exodus,]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  65 

2.  Roberts  mentions  a  sect  in  India  called  Urechamanar,  who  eat  their 
food  standing,-  having  their  sandals  on  their  feet,  and  a  staff  or  a  bunch  of 
peacock  feathers  in  their  hands. 


XII,  84.  The  people  took  their  dough  before  it  was  leavened, 
their  kneading-troughs  being  bound  up  in  their  clothes  upon 
their  shoulders. 

1.  The   dough  was  made  by  mixing  flour  with  water,  or,  perhaps,  with 
milk.    It  was  then  kneaded  with  the  hands ;  in  Egypt  the  feet  also  were 
used.    When  the  kneading  was  completed  leaven  was  generally  added.     See 
note  on  Malt,  xiii,  33. 

2.  The  kneading-troughs  were  either  small  wooden  bowls,  such  as  the 
Arabs  now  use  for 

kneading  d  o  u  g  h, 
and  into  which 
their  bread  is  put 
after  it  is  baked, 
or  they  may  have 
been  similar  to  the 
leather  utensil  de 
scribed  by  Pococke, 
Niebuhr,  and  other 
travelers.  It  is  a 
round  piece  of 
leather,  having  iron 
rings  at  certain 
distances  around  it, 
through  which  a 
chain  is  passed,  so 
that  it  may,  when 
not  in  use,  be 
drawn  together 
like  a  purse  and  23.— KNBAUING-TKOUGH. 

hung  up.     The  Arabs,  when  they  travel,  sometimes  carry  dough  in  it,  and 
sometimes  bread. 

XIV  6.    He  made  ready   his  chariot. 

The  Egyptian  chariot  was  a  framework  of  wood,  nearly  semicircular 
in  front,  having  straight  sides  and  open  behind.  The  front  was  of  wood, 
and  the  sides  were  strengthened  and  ornamented  with  leather  and  metal 
bindings.  The  floor  was  of  rope  net- work,  to  give  a  springy  footing.  The 




fittings  of  the  inside  and  the  harness  were  of  raw  hide  or  tanned  leather. 

On  the  sides  quivers  and  bow-cases  were  fastened,  crossing  each  other.    The 

wheels  were  low,  had  six 
spokes,  and  were  kept  on  the 
axle  by  a  leather  thong  or 
linch-pin.  There  was  no 
seat  in  the  chariot.  The 
number  of  horses  to  each 
chariot  was  two. 

The  chariot  of  the  king  did 
not  differ  materially  from 
ordinary  war-chariots.  He, 
however,  usually  rode  alone 
into  battle,  having  the  reins 
fastened  around  his  waist, 
leaving  botli  hands  free  to 

manage  his  weapons  of  war. 

Jehu  seems  to  have  imitated  the  custom  of  Egyptian  monarchs  in  driving 
his  own  chariot.     See  2  Kings  ix,  20. 

12O.— "THIRD  MEN." 

XIV,  7.  He  took  six  hundred,  chosen  chariots,  and  all  the  char 
iots  of  Egypt,  and  captains  over  every  one  of  them. 

The  word  rendered  captains  is,  literally,  third  men.  Usually  each  war- 
chariot  carried  two  men:  the  charioteer,  who  was  an  important  character,  and 
the  warrior.  Sometimes,  however,  there  was  a  third  man,  who  had  direction 
of  the  two  others.  The  strength  of  Pharaoh's  chariot  force  is  seen,  then,  in 
this,  that  lie  had,  besides  the  usual  pair  of  men  to  each  chariot,  a  third  man 
or  "captain."  Thus  one  might  act  as  charioteer,  one  as  warrior,  and  one 
as  shield-bearer. 


XIV,  24.  It  came  to  pass,  that  in  the  morning  watch  the  Lord 
looked  unto  the  host  of  the  Egyptians. 

Before  the  captivity,  the  Hebrews  divided  the  night  into  three  watches. 
The  first  was  from  sunset  to  ten  o'clock ;  the  second  from  ten  o'clock  to  two ; 
the  third  from  two  o'clock  to  sunrise.  The  first  was  called  the  "  beginning 
of  the  watches."  Lam.  ii,  19.  The  second  was  called  the  "middle  watch." 
Judges  vii,  19.  The  third  was  called  the  "  morning  watch,"  as  in  the  text, 
and  also  in  1  Sam.  xi,  11. 

This  mode  of  dividing  time  is  also  referred  to  in  Psa.  Ixiii,  6 ;  cxix,  148. 
The  Psalmist  meditated  on  God  and  his  word  in  the  "  night- watches.!1 

For  a  later  method  of  dividing  the  watches,  see  note  on  Mark  xiii,  35. 

Exodus.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  67 

XV,  1.    The  horse  and    his  rider    hath  he  thrown  into   the  sea. 

Archaeologists  are  not  agreed  as  to  the  existence  of  cavalry  among  the 
ancient  Egyptians.  This  passage  and  others  similar  seem  to  refer  to  cavalry, 
but  it  is  said  by  some  to  have  reference  only  to  chariot  warriors,  in  distinction 
from  foot  soldiers.  All  agree  in  admitting  that  there  are  no  representations 
of  cavalry  on  the  monuments.  Why  they  are  not  represented,  if  they  were 
known,  it  is  hard  to  say.  "Wilkinson  insists,  however,  that  there  must  have 
been  Egyptian  cavalry  notwithstanding  there  are  no  monumental  pictures  of 
them.  He  refers  to  2  Chron.  xii,  3,  where  it  is  said  that  Shishak,  king  of 
Egypt,  had  twelve  hundred  chariots  and  sixty  thousand  horsemen.  These 
horsemen  are  by  far  too  numerous  to  be  the  occupants  of  the  number  of 
chariots  given ;  so  that,  however  it  may  have  been  in  the  time  of  the  Exodus, 
there  must  have  been  Egyptian  cavalry  five  hundred  years  later.  He 
further  says  that  the  hieroglyphics  notice  the  "command  of  the  cavalry" 
as  a  very  honorable  position,  generally  held  by  the  most  distinguished  of  the 
king's  sons,  and  he  also  refers  to  ancient  profane  authors  who  speak  of 
Egyptian  cavalry.  See  Ancient  Egyptians,  vol.  i,  pp.  238,  292. 

123.— DANCING. 

XV,  20.  All  the  women  went  out  after  her  with  timbrels  and 
with  dances. 

Dancing  was  performed  at  first  on  sacred  occasions  only.  It  was  a  part  of 
the  religious  ceremonies  of  the  Egyptians  as  well  as  of  the  Hebrews,  and  was 
engaged  in  by  many  idolatrous  nations,  and  often  accompanied  with  scones 
of  debauchery.  !A.mong  the  Hebrews  it  was  joined  with  sacred  song,  and 
was  usually  participated  in  by  the  women  only.  When  the  men  danced  it 
was  in  companies  separate  from  the  women,  promiscuous  dancing  not  being 
practiced.  If  the  ancient  Hebrew  dances  were  like  those  of  the  modern 
Arabs,  we  can  understand  how  Miriam  led  in  the  dance.  One  leads  off  Jn 
the  step,  and  the  others  follow  in  exact  imitation  of  all  the  varied  move 
ments  that  she  makes.  These  movements  are  entirely  extemporaneous, 
governed  by  no  fixed  rule,  but  varied  at  the  pleasure  of  the  leader.  Danc 
ing  was  usually  performed  by  the  Hebrews  in  the  day-time,  and  in  the  open 
air.  It  was  an  outward  expression  of  tumultuous  joy.  When  Jephthah 
returned  from  his  conquest  over  the  Ammonites  "  his  daughter  came  out  to 
meet  him  with  timbrels  and  with  dances."  Judges  xi,  34.  When  the 
men  of  Benjamin  surprised  the  daughters  of  Shiloh  the  latter  were  dancing 
at  "a  feast  of  the  Lord."  Judges  xxi,  19-21.  When  David  returned 
after  the  slaughter  of  Goliath,  the  Israelitish  women  met  him  with  singing 
and  dancing.  1  Sam.  xviii,  G.  When  the  ark  was  brought  home,  David 

68  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND    CUSTOMS.  [Exodus. 

danced  before  it  "with  all  his  might."  2  Sam.  vi,  14.  Some  suppose  that 
the  reason  why  Michal  was  offended  at  this  was,  not  only  because  of  his 
scanty  costume,  (as  intimated  in  2  Sam.  vi,  20,)  but  also  because  he  en 
gaged  in  a  service  that  usually  pertained  to  women  only,  and  hence  was 
undignified  and  unbecoming;  in  a  king.  On  several  occasions  G-od's  people 
are  exhorted  to  praise  the  Lord  in  the  dance.  See  Psa.  cxlix,  3 ;  cl,  4. 

124.— FLESH-POTS  —  DIET. 

XVI,  8.  When  we  sat  by  the  flesh-pots,  and.  when  we  did 
eat  bread  to  the  full. 

1.  The  flesh-pot  was  a  three-legged  vessel  of  bronze,  which  the  Egyptians 
used  for  culinary  purposes. 

2.  The  ancient  Egyptians  were  fond  of  animal  food.     They  chiefly  ale 
beef  and  goose,  and  also  had  an  abundance  of  fish.     The  cow  was  sacred, 
and  was  not  eaten.     Some  writers  assert  that  sheep  were  not  eatcu  ;  but 
the  contrary  is  affirmed  by  others. 

3.  Bread  here  is  a  generic  term  denoting  vegetable  diet.     This  the  Egyp 
tians  had  in  large  variety.     See  Num.  xi,  5. 

125.— OMER— EPHAH. 
XVI,  36.    Now  an  omer  is  the  tenth  part  of  an   ephah. 

1.  The  omer  or  gomer  was  a  dry  measure  supposed  to  contain  two  quarts, 
one  pint,  and  one  tenth,  English  corn  measure. 

2.  The  ephah  is  supposed  to  have  contained  three  pecks,  one  quart,  and  a 


XIX,  10.  The  Lord  said  unto  Moses,  Go  unto  the  people,  and 
dfenetify  them  to-day  and  to-morrow,  and  let  them  wash 
their  clothes. 

This  was  considered  a  necessary  preparation  for  meeting  Jehovah.  Pagans 
have  similar  ceremonies  in  connection  with  their  worship.  Roberts  snys: 
"  No  man  can  go  to  the  temple  wearing  a  dirty  cloth :  he  must  either  put  on 
a  clean  one,  or  go  himself  to  a  tank  and  wash  it,  if  it  be  soiled ;  or  he  must 
put  on  one  which  is  quite  new.  Near  the  temples  men  may  be  often  seen 
washing  their  clothes,  in  order  to  prepare  themselves  for  some  religious  cere 
mony." —  Oriental  Illustrations.  Jacob  commanded  his  household  to  be  clean 
and  change  their  garments  when  they  went  up  to  Bethel  to  build  an  altar 
to  Jehovah.  Gen.  xxxv,  2. 

Exodus]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  69 


XXII,  6.  If  fire  break  out,-  and  catch  in  thorns,  so  that  the 
stacks  of  corn,  or  the  standing  corn,  or  the  field,  be  con 
sumed  therewith,  he  that  kindled  the  fire  shall  surely  make 

1.  Thorns  grow  plentifully  around  the  edges  of  the  fields,  and  intermingle 
with  the  wheat.     "By  harvest-time  they  are  not  only  dry  themselves,  but 
are  choked  up  with  tall  grass  dry  as  powder.     Fire,   therefore,   catches  in 
them  easily,  and  spreads  with  great  rapidity  and  uncontrollable  fury  ;  and  as 
the  grain  is  dead  ripe,  it  is  impossible  to  extinguish  it." — THOMSON.  The  Land 
and  the  Book,  i,  529.     The  farmers  are  exceedingly  careful  of  fire  at  such  times, 
The  Arabs  in  the  valley  of  the  Jordan,  according  to"  Burckhardt,  invariably 
put  to  death  any  person  who  fires  the  grass,  even  though  it  be  done  inno 
cently.     After  the  harvest,  and  before  the  autumnal  rains  set  in,  it  is  quite 
common  to  set  the  dry  thorns  and  weeds  on  fire  in  order  to  clear  the  land 
for  plowing,  and  to  furnish  a  fertilizer  from  the  ashes. 

2.  The  word  "  stacks  "  would  be  better  rendered  by  heaps,  since  the  grain 
was  not  put  into  stacks  as  with  us ;  but  being   left   uncut  until  fully  ripe,  it 
was,  as  soon  as  cut,  gathered  into  heaps,  ready  for  the  threshing-floor. 

128.— BEASTS   TO  BE    HELPED. 

XXIII,  5.  If  thou  see  the  ass  of  him  that  hateth  thee  lying 
under  his  burden,  and  wouldest  forbear  to  help  him,  thou 
shalt  surely  help  with  him. 

By  reason  of  the  roughness  of  the  way.  it  was  an  easy  matter  for  an  ass, 
especially  when  overburdened,  as  \vas  often  the  case,  to  fall  to  the  ground, 
and  it  was  also  very  difficult  for  the  poor  brute  to  extricate  himself  from 
the  stones  and  hollows  among  which  he  fell.  Hence  this  merciful  law,  re 
quiring  a  man  to  help  even  his  enemy  when  he  finds  him  thus  trying  to  aid 
an  unfortunate  brute.  Wordsworth  aptly  suggests  that  this  law  sets  the 
conduct  of  the  priest  and  the  Levite,  in  the  parable  of  the  Good  Samaritan,  in 
a  most  unenviable  light,  inasmuch  as  it  shows  them  to  have  treated  a  fel 
low-being  with  less  regard  than  their  law  required  them  to  treat  an  enemy's 
ass.  Luke  x,  31,  32. 


XXIII,  14  Three  times  thou  shalt  keep  a  feast  unto  me  in 
the  year. 

1.  It  is  curious  to  notice  how,  at  a  time  considerably  later  than  the  origin 
of  these  public  festivals,  the  exact  day  of  their  occurrence  was  made  known. 
In  these  days  of  almanacs  and  of  exact  astronomical  calculations,  we  can  hardly 
appreciate  the  difficulties  they  encountered  in  finding  the  right  tim\  Tho 


first  appearance  of  the  new  moon  was  the  starting-point.  To  ascertain  this 
t'  e  Sanhedrin  took  the  deposition  of  two  impartial  witnesses  as  to  the  time 
they  had  seen  it.  They  next  spread  the  intelligence  through  the  country  by 
means  of  beacons.  A  person  with  a  bundle  of  brushwood  or  straw  went,  to 
the  top  of  Mount  Olivet,  where  he  kindled  his  torch  and  waved  it  back  and 
forth  till  he  was  answered  by  fires  of  a  similar  nature  from  the  surround  ng 
hills.  From  these,  in  like  manner,  the  intelligence  was  spread  to  others 
until  the  whole  land  was  notified.  After  a  time  the  Samaritans  imitated  the 
signs,  thus  making  great  confusion.  This  made  it  necessary  to  send  mes 
sengers  all  over  the  country.  These,  however,  did  not  go  abroad  at  every 
new  moon,  but  only  seven  times  during  the  year.  In  this  way  the  time  for 
these  three  great  feasts — Passover,  Pentecost,  and  Tabernacles — as  well  as  for 
other  important  occasions,  was  published  to  the  people.  See  citation  from 
Maimonides  in  BROWN'S  Antiquities  of  the  Jeivs,  vol.  i,  p.  424. 

2.  These  three  festivals  were  preceded  by  a  season  of  preparation,  called 
peres,  which  lasted  fif|)en  days.     During  this  time  each  person  was  expected 
to  meditate  on  the  solemnity  of  the  feast,  and  to  undergo  whatever  legal 
purifications  might  be  necessary.    This  is  referred  to  in  John  xi,  55.    Roads, 
bridges,  streets,  and  public  water-tanks  were  repaired  for  the  convenience 
of  travelers. 

3.  All  the  males  of  Israel  were  expected  to  attend,  excepting  the  aged,  the 
infirm,   and  infants  who  could  not  walk  alone.     They  were  commanded  to 
bring  offerings  with  them. 


XXIII,  15.    Thou  shalt  keep  the  feast  of    unleavened   bread. 

Tlii-.  the  first  of  the  three  great  feasts,  is  usually  called  the  Passover,  in 
commemoration  of  the  passing  over  of  the  houses  of  the  Israelites  by  the 
destroying  angel,  at  the  time  when  the  first-born  of  the  Egyptians  were  slain. 
The  ancient  Jewish  canons  distinguish  between  what  they  term  -'the 
Egyp  ian  Passover"  and  ''the  Permanent  Passover;  "  the  former  signifying 
the  feast  in  its  original  form,  and  the  latter  representing  it  as  modified  in  the 
subsequent  years  of  the  history  of  the  people.  The  essential  parts  of  the 
feast,  were  however,  the  same.  It  took  place  during  the  month  Abib,  or, 
as  it  was  subsequently  called,  Nisan,  corresponding  very  nearly  with  April 
of  our  calendar.  See  note  on  Dent,  xvi,  1.  While  it  lasted  great  care  was 
taken  to  abstain  from  leaven.  A  he-lamb  or  kid  of  the  first  year  was 
selected  by  the  head  of  the  family  and  was  slain,  its  blood  being  sprinkled 
originally  on  the  door-posts,  and  subsequently  on  the  bottom  of  the  altar. 
The  animal  was  then  roasted  whole  with  fire,  and  eaten  with  unleavened 
bread  and  a  salad  of  bitter  herbs.  It  could  not  be  boiled,  nor  must  a  bone  of 
it  be  brokea  When  they  first  ate  it  in  Egypt  the  Israel  tes  hud  their  loins 


girt  and  their  shoes  on,  all  ready  for  a  journey,  and  they  partook  of  it  stand 
ing,  as  if  in  haste  to  be  away.  In  after  years  this  position  was  changed  to 
sitting  or  reclining.  Not  fewer  than  ten,  nor  more  than  twenty,  persons 
were  admitted  to  one  of  these  feasts.  Stanley  (in  his  History  of  the  Jewish 
Church,  vol.  i,  p.  559,  Am.  ed.)  gives  a  deeply  interesting  account,  from  his 
personal  observation,  of  the  modern  observance  of  the  Passover  by  the 
Samaritan*--.  For  the  mode  of  observing  the  Passover  in  our  Lord's  time,  see 
notes  on  Matt,  xxvi,  19,  20. 

It.  is  supposed  by  some  writers  that,  aside  from  the  general  design  of  the 
Passover,  as  already  stated,  there  was  in  some  of  its  ceremonies  an  inten 
tional  Divine  rebuke  of  the  idolatry  of  heathen  nations,  and  especially  of 
that  of  the  Egyptians.  One  of  their  deities  was  represented  by  a  human  body 
with  a  ram's  head.  To  have  a  lamb  slain,  and  its  blood  sprinkled  on  the  door 
posts,  was  an  act  of  contempt  against  this  deity.  Some  heathen  people  ate 
raw  flesh  in  connection  with  their  festivities.  The  passover  lamb  was  to  be 
cooked.  This  cooking  was  by  roasting,  for  the  Egyptians  and  Syrians  some 
times  boiled  the  flesh  of  their  sacrificial  victims  in  water,  and  sometimes  in 
milk.  It  was  to  be  roasted  with  h're,  for  the  Egyptians,  Chaldeans,  and 
ancient  Persians  are  said  to  have  roasted  their  sacrifices  in  the  sun.  It  was 
to  be  roasted  whole,  even  to  the  intestines,  for  the  heathen  were  in  the  habit 
of  looking  into  these  for  omens,  and  sometimes  even  ate  them  raw. 


XXIII.  16.  The  feast  of  harvest,  the  first-fruits  of  thy  labors, 
•which  thou  hast  sown  in  the  field:  and  the  feast  of  ingather 
ing,  which  is  in  the  end  of  the  year,  when  thou  hast  gathered 
in  thy  labors  out  of  the  field. 

1.  The  Feast  of  Harvest  is  sometime*  called  the  Feapt  of  Weeko,  because 
of  the  "seven  weeks"  by  which  its  time  was  determined.  Dent,  xvi,  9,  10.  It 
is  also  called  the  Day  of  First-fruits,  (Num.  xxvi:i.  26,)  because  on  that  day  the 
first  loaves  made  from  the  wheat  harvest  were  offered  to  the  Lord.  Its  later 
name  was  Pentecost,  because  it  occurred  fifty  days  after  Passover.  These 
fifty  days  begnn  with  the  offering  of  the  first  sheaf  of  the  barley  harvest 
during  Passover  week,  (Lev.  xxiii,  10,)  and  ended  with  the  Feast  of  Harvest. 
This  feast  took  place  after  the  corn  harvest,  and  before  the  vintage. 

Its  design  was  primarily  to  give  an  expression  of  gratitude  to  God  for  the 
harvest  which  had  been  gathered;  but  the  Jews  assert,  that  in  addition  to 
this,  it  was  intended  to  celebrate  the  giving  of  the  law  on  Siniai,  which  took 
place  fifty  days  after  the  Passover.  Maimonides  says  that  the  reason  why 
the  feast  occupied  but  one  day  was  because  that  was  all  the  time  occupied 
.m  giving  the  law. 

On  this  day  the  people  rented  from  all  labor.     Two  loaves,  made   of  the 

72  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Exodus. 

new  wheat,  were  offered  before  the  Lord.  These  were  leavened,  in  distinction 
to  the  Passover  bread,  which  was  unleavened.  Lev.  xxiii,  17.  The  Jews 
say  that  this  was  because  the  Passover  was  a  memorial  of  the  haste  in 
which  they  departed  from  Egypt,  when  they  had  not  time  to  get  their  bread 
leavened ;  while  the  Feast  of  Harvest  was  a  token  of  thankfulness  to  God 
for  their  ordinary  food.  In  addition  to  this  offering  of  the  loaves,  every  per 
son  was  required  to  bring  in  a  basket  a  portion  of  the  first-fruits  of  the 
earth,  and  offer  it  unto  the  Lord.  Deut.  xxvi,  1-10.  At  the  same  time 
there  was  a  burnt  offering  of  seven  young  lambs,  one  young  bullock,  and  two 
rams.  A  kid  was  given  as  a  sin-offering,  and  two  young  lambs  for  a  peace- 
offtriug.  Lev.  xxiii,  18.  19. 

2.  The  Feast  of  Ingathering,  more  generally  known  as  the  Feast  of  Taber 
nacles,  (Lev.  xxiii,  34,)  was  instituted  to  remind  the  people  that  their  fathers 
dwelt  in  tents  in  the  wilderness,  (Lev.  xxiii,  43 ;)  and  also  to  be  an  annual 
thanksgiving  after  all  the  products  of  the  earth— corn,  fruit,  wine,  and  oil- 
were  gathered  for  the  year.  Lev.  xxiii,  39.  It  was  held  in  the  seventh  month, 
Tizri,  or  Kthanim,  corresponding  to  our  October,  and  lasted  for  eight  days; 
during  which  time  the  people  dwelt  in  booths  made  of  the  branches  of  palm, 
willow,  and  other  trees.  Lev.  xxiii,  39-43.  On  each  day  there  were  offered 
in  sacrifice  two  rams,  fourteen  lamhs,  and  a  kid  for  a  burnt-offering.  During 
the  continuance  of  the  feast  seventy  bullocks  were  offered,  thirteen  on  the 
first  day,  twelve  on  the  second,  eleven  on  the  third,  and  so  on,  the  number 
being  diminished  by  one  on  each  day  until  the  seventh  day.  when  only  seven 
were  offered.  The  eighth  day  was  a  day  of  peculiar  solemnity,  and  had  for 
its  special  offerings  a  bullock,  a  ram,  and  seven  lambs  for  a  burnt-offering,  and 
a  goat  for  a  sin-offering.  Num.  xxix,  12-38.  On  the  Sabbatical  year,  the 
Feast  of  Tabernacles  was  still  further  celebrated  by  a  public  reading  of  the 
law.  Deut.  xxxi,  10-13.  Whether  this  was  intended  to  include  the  whole 
law,  or  only  certain  portions,  and  if  so,  what  portions,  is  matter  of  dispute. 

Other  ceremonies  than  these,  originally  instituted,  were  afterward  added. 
See  note  on  John  vii,  37. 

These  festivals  at  the  gathering  of  harvests  were  not  peculiar  to  the  He 
brews,  but  were  in  use  among  many  Gentile  nations.  "The  ancient  sacri 
fices,  assemblies,  and  conventions  for  sacrifices,  were  made  at  the  gathering 
in  of  the  fruits  and  productions  of  the  earth,  as  the  season  of  greatest  lei 
sure  and  rest."  ARISTOTLE,  cited  by  MAIMONIDES,  Reasons,  etc.,  p.  257. 


XXIII,  IT.  Three  times  in  the  year  all  thy  males  shall  appear 
before  the  Lord  God. 

This  great  and  sudden  increase  in  the  population  of  the  sacred  city— for 
it  V;RS  to  Jerusalem  that  the  male  inhabitants  went,  after  they  were  settled 


in  Canaan— could  be  accommodated  much  more  easily  th:in  at  first  might  be 
supposed.  Three  times  a  year  these  pilgrims  were  looked  for,  and  every  ar 
rangement  was  doubtless  made  for  their  reception,  while  those  who  could 
not  find  room  in  the  houses  could  pitch  their  tents  in  the  streets  or  on  the 
outskirts  of  the  city.  When  the  Mohammedans,  in  countless  numbers,  make 
their  great  pilgrimage  to  Mecca,  they  carry  with  tliem  provisions  enough  to 
last  during  the  journey  both  ways,  and  also  during  their  stay  in  the  city. 
They  take  from  their  homes  butter,  honey,  oil,  olives,  rice,  and  bread,  be 
sides  provender  for  camels  and  asses.  They  dwell  in  tents  until  their 


XXIII,  19.    Thou  shalt  not  seetne  a  kid  in  his  mother's   milk. 

As  this  injunction  is  put  in  connection  with  sacrifices  and  festivals,  it 
seems  to  have  referred  to  some  idolatrous  practices  of  the  heathen.  Cud- 
worth  says,  on  the  authority  of  an  ancient  Karaite  Comment  on  the  Pentateuch, 
that  it  was  an  ancient  heathen  custom  to  boil  a  kid  in  the  dam's  milk,  and 
then  besprinkle  with  it  all  the  trees,  fields,  gardens,  and  orchards.  This  was 
done  at  the  close  of  their  harvests  for  the  purpose  of  making  trees  and  fields 
more  fruitful  the  following  year.  It  will  be  noticed  that  the  injunction  of 
the  text  is  given  in  connection  with  the  feast  of  harvest. 

Thomson  says,  that  the  Arabs  "select  a  young  kid.  f;it  and  tender,  dress  it 
carefully,  and  then  stew  it  in  milk,  generally  sour,  mixed  with  onions  and 
hot  spices  such  as  they  relish.  They  call  it  Lebn  iminu — kid,  'in  his  moth 
er's  milk.'  The  Jews,  however,  will  not  eat  it." — Tfie  Land  and  the  Book, 
vol.  i,  135. 

134.— THE  CUBIT. 

XXV,  10.  Two  cubits  and  a  half  shall  be  the  length  thereof, 
and  a  oubit  and  a  half  the  breadth  thereof,  and  a  cubit  and  a 
half  the  height  thereof. 

The  word  cubit  is  derived  directly  from  the  Latin  cubitus,  the  lower  arm. 
The  Hebrew  word  is  animali,  the  mother  of  the  arm,  that  is,  the  fore-arm. 
It  is  evidently  a  measure  taken  from  the  human  body;  as  were  other  meas 
ures  of  length  among  the  Hebrews  and  other  nations.  There  seem  to  bo 
two  kinds  of  cubits,  and  some  say  three  kinds,  mentioned  in  Scripture.  In 
Deut.  iii,  11,  we  read  of  "the  oubit  of  a  man."  In  2  Chron.  iii,  3,  ''cubits 
after  the  first  [or  old]  measure  "  are  spoken  of.  In  Ezek.  xli,  8,  we  are  told 
of  "great  cubits,"  each  one  of  which,,  according  to  Ezek.  xl,  5,  measured  a 
"cubit  and  a  handbreadth."  Some  writers  suppose  these  to  represent  three 
different  measures  of  length;  while  others  regard  the  first  and  second  as 
identical,  thus  making  but  two  kinds  of  cubits.  Whether  two  or  three  can 
not  now  be  determined.  It  is  no  easier  to  decide  as  to  the  length  of  any 
one  of  the  cubits  named.  Various  estimates  of  the  Mosaic  cubit  have  becu 


given,  varying  from  twelve  inches  to  twenty-two.  The  ancient  Egyptian 
cubit  was  nearly  twenty-one  inches,  which  some  of  the  best  authorities  now 
estimate  as  the  length  of  the  Mosaic.  Other  authorities,  however,  equally 
worthy  of  consideration,  claim  that  the  length  of  the  Mosaic  cubit,  as  ap 
plied  to  the  Tabernacle  and  Temple,  was  eighteen  inches;  and  that  the  Jews 
did  not  use  the  cubit  of  twenty-one  inches — which  was  Babylonian  as  well 
as  Egyptian — until  after  the  captivity. 

135.— BEATEN   OIL. 

XXVII,  20.     Pure  oil-olive  beaten  for  the  light. 

This  is  supposed  to  have  been  oil  which  was  obtained  from  olives  not  fully 
ripe,  and  pounded  in  a  mortar  instead  of  being  put  into  a  press.  It  was 
considered  ihe  best  arid  purest,  having  a  whiter  color  and  better  flavor,  and 
yielding  a  clearer  light  than  the  ordinary  oil  from  the  press.  Solomon  made 
an  annual  present  of  this  sort  of  oil  to  Hiram.  1  Kings  v,  11.  It  is  also 
mentioned  in  Exod.  xxix,  40 ;  Lev.  xxiv,  2 ;  Num.  xxviii,  5.  It  may  have 
been  what  is  known  as  "cold  drawn  oil."  See  note  on  Psa.  xcii,  10. 

136.— THE  SPAN. 

XXVIII,  16.     A    span    shall    be    the    length  thereof,   and  a   span 
shall  be  the  breadth  thereof. 

The  span  (zereth)  is  the  distance  between  the  extremities  of  the  thumb 
and  outside  finger  of  the  outstretched  hand.  It  is  half  a  cubit. 


XXXII,  4.  He  received  them  at  their  hand,  and  fashioned  it 
with  a  graving  tool,  after  he  had  made  it  a  molten  calf. 

Most  of  the  large  idols  worshiped  by  the  ancients  were  first  made  of  wood 
and  then  covered  with  plates  of  metal.  We  find  illustrations  of  this  in  Isa. 
xxx,  22.  and  xl,  19.  See  also  Nahum  i,  14;  Hab.  ii,  18.  A  wooden  image  (or 
one  of  stone;  see  Hab.  ii,  19)  was  first  prepared,  and  the  gold  was  then  cast 
into  a  flat  sheet  which  the  goldsmith  hammered  and  spread  out  into  plating 
which  was  fastened  on  the  wooden  form.  Thus  the  goldsmith  first  melted 
the  gold,  and  then  uged  "a  graving  tool"  to  fashion  it  to  the  shape  of  the 
image.  Aaron's  molten  calf  seems  to  have  been  made  in  this  manner.  "This 
is  evident  from  the  way  in  which  it  was  destroyed:  the  image  was  first  of 
all  burnt,  and  then  beaten  or  crushed  to  pieces,  and  pounded  or  ground  to 
powder,  (Deut.  ix,  21 ;)  that  is,  the  wooden  center  was  first  burnt  into  char- 
coal,  and  then  the  golden  covering  beaten  or  rubbed  to  pieces;  verse  20, 
compared  with  Deut.  ix,  21." — KEIL. 

See  further  note  on  Isa,  xliv,  10. 

Exodus.]  BIBLE   MANNERS    AND    CUSTOMS.  rfO 


XXXII,  6.  They  rose  up  early  on  the  morrow,  and  offered 
burnt  offerings  ;  and  brought  peace  offerings  ;  and  the  people 
eat  down  to  eat  and  to  drink,  and  rose  up  to  play. 

'''This  expression  [play — Ileb.  tsachek,  to  laugh;  and  so  rendered  in  Ge-i 
xxi,  6]  often  signifies  dancing  among  tlie  ancients.  It  probably  refers  hnie 
to  some  mystic  dance  which  imitated  the  course  of  the  stars.  The  sun-god 
was  represented  by  the  ancients  by  the  image  of  a  bull.  Its  worship  was 
well  known  to  the  Israelites  because  the  Egyptians  paid  honor  to  the  bull 
Apis  in  Memphis;  and  earlier  than  This  to  the  bull  Mnevis  in  On,  by  which 
name  the  Greek  Heliopolis  (City  of  the  Sun)  was  called.  On  was  near 
the  land  of  Gosheu,  which  was  given  to  the  Israelites  when  they  were 
brought  from  Canaan  to  Egypt." — 
STOLLBERG'S  Histwy  of  Religion,  vol.  ii. 
p.  12^;  cit.  by  ROSENMULLER,  Morgen- 
land,  vol.  ii,  p.  134. 

The  Egyptian  idolaters  worshiped 
deity  under  animal  forms,  thus  differing 
from  many  other  nations  of  antiquity 
whose  deities  were  in  human  form. 
They  kept  live  animals  in  some  of  their 
temples,  and  exhibited  representations  of 

them  in  others.    The  worship  was  accom-  ~ — — 

panied  with  lascivious  dances  and  other 

obscene  practices.     This  is  probably  referred  to  in  the  twenty-fifth  verse. 

Reference  is  made  to  the  Egyptian  origin  of  this  calf-worship  in  Ezek. 
xx,  6—8,  and  in  Acts  vii,  39,  40.  Jeroboam,  who  afterward  s  -t  up  the  two 
golden  calves,  (1  Kings  xii,  28,)  had  lived  in  Egypt.  1  Kings  xii,  2. 

139.— MIRRORS. 

XXXVIIIt  8.  He  made  the  laver  of  brass,  and  the  foot  of  it  of 
brass,  of  the  looking-glasses  of  the  women  assembling,  which 
assembled  at  the  door  of  the  tabernacle  of  the  congregation. 

Ancient  mirrors  were  metallic.  The  mirrors  of  the  Egyptians  were  made 
of  a  mixed  metal,  chiefly  copper,  and  were  admirably  polished.  They  were 
usually  small,  being  in  size  and  in  general  shape  what  would  now  be  called 
hand-mirrors.  They  were  wrought  with  great  skill,  and  the  handles,  which 
were  of  wood,  stone,  or  metal,  were  artistically  shaped  and  highly  orna 
mented.  The  Egyptian  women  were  in  the  habit  of  carrying  a  mirror  in 
one  hand  when  they  went  to  their  temples  to  worship.  It  may  be  that  the 
Hebrew  women  imitated  this  custom  when  they  brought  their  mirrors  to 
."  the  door  of  the  tabernacle  of  the  congregation." 

76  BIBLE   MANNERS   ANT)   CUSTOMS.  [Exoiua 

Dr.  Shaw  (Travels,  p.  24)  says  that  the  Moorish  women  lie  saw  made 
their  mirrors  a  part  of  the  ornaments  of  their  costume,  hanging  them  on  the 
breast,  and  wealing  them  with  their  other  ornaments  even  when  engaged  in 
severest  drudgery. 

Allusion  is  made  to  metallic  mirrors  in  Job  xxxvii,  18;  Isa.  iii,  23  ;  2  Cor. 
in,  18;  James  i,  23. 


XXXVIII,  24.    Twenty  and  nine    talents. 

The  gold  talent,  which  is  here  spoken  of,  is  supposed  to  have  weighed 
1,320,000  grains,  or  very  nearly  230  pounds  troy.  Its  money  value  if=  reck 
oned  at  £5,475,  or  over  $27,000.  The  silver  talent,  mentioned  in  verse  2d, 
was  half  the  weight,  that  is,  660,000  grains,  or  almost  115  pounds  troy. 
Its  value  is  estimated  at  £340,  or  $1,700.  Of  course  there  was  no  coin 
which  represented  this  sum.  The  word  was  used  to  designate  largo  amounts 
of  money.  See  Matt,  xxv,  15. 


XL,  2.  On  the  first  day  of  the  first  month  shalt  thon  set  up 
the  tabernacle  of  the  tent  of  the  congregation. 

This  was  thirty  cubits  long  by  ten  wide,  and  was  ten  cubits  in  height. 
Exod.  xxxvi,  20-30.  It  was  made  of  boards  of  shittim  or  acacia  wood, 
every  board  being  ten  cubits  long,  and  one  cubit  and  a  half  wide.  Exod. 
xxxvi,  21.  The  thickness  is  not  mentioned  in  the  Bible,  but  Joseplws  says 
that  each  of  these  boards  was  four  fingers  thick,  excepting  the  two  corners 
of  the  west  end,  which  were  each  a  cubit  in  thickness. — Ant.  of  the  Jews.  Book 
III,  chap,  vi,  §  3.  Each  board  had  two  tenons  at  the  base,  (Exod.  xxxvi, 
22,)  which  fitted  into  silver  mortises.  Exod.  xxxvi,  24.  These  mortises  in 
turn  were  fastened  to  the  ground  by  means  of  brass  pins,  (Exod.  xxxviii,  20,) 
which,  according  to  Josephus,  were  each  a  cubit  in  length.  The  boards 
were  held  together  by  means  of  wooden  bars  covered  with  gold.  Exod. 
xxxvi,  31-34. 

Several  kinds  of  curtains  and  coverings  were  made  for  the  Tabernacle. 
One  was  of  fine  linen,  the  threads  being  u  blue,  purple,  and  scarlet."  and  on 
the  curtains  were  figures  of  cherubim,  either  woven  or  embroidered.  Exod. 
xxxvi.  8-13.  Another  was  of  goats'  hair,  spun  and  woven  into  cloth.  Exod. 
xxxv,  26;  xxxvi,  14.  Another  was  of  "rams'  skins  dyed  red,"  and  i\  fourth 
was  of  the  skins  of  the  tachash,  or  "badger,"  (Exod.  xxxvi,  19,)  though 
precisely  what  animal  is  meant  by  that  name  is  not  known. 

The  design  and  arrangement  of  these  different  curtains  and  coverings  are- 
a  subject  of  dispute  among  restorers  of  the  Tabernacle.  Some  regard  them 
as  coverings  thrown  over  the  tabernacle,  the  figured  curtain  being  the  first, 
and  making  a  beautiful  ceiling,  the  goats'  hair  next,  the  dyed  rams'  skins  next, 




and  over  all  the  tachash  skins.  Others  think  that  the  figured  curtains  not 
only  made  a  ceiling,  but  also  were  suspended  on  the  inside,  either  partially 
or  entirely  covering  the  gilded  boards. 

Connected  with  this  question  is  that  of  the  shape  of  the  Tabernacle  roof, 
whether  flat,  like  Oriental  houses,  or  peaked  and  slanting,  like  Oriental  tents. 
Great  names  might  be  mentioned  on  both  sides.  Fergusson,  the  celebrated 
English  architect,  presents  a  very  strong  plea  in  favor  of  the  tent  theory  in 
Smith's  Dictionary  of  the  Bible,  art,  "  Temple.''  Some  very  strong  arguments 
against  his  plan  of  restoration  may  be  found  in  a  recent  work  by  a  learned 
Scotch  layman  :  The  Tabernacle  and  its  Priests  and  Service*,  etc..  by  William 
Brown,  Edinburgh,  1871.  One  of  the  most  original  treaties  on  the  subject 


is  to  be  found  in  Solomon's  Temple,  e'c.,  by  the  Rev.  T.  0.  Paine,  Pxxton, 
1861.  Mr.  Paine  adopts  the  tent-theory,  but,  as  wo  shall  presently  see,  has 
a  method  of  restoration  entirely -his  own. 

Fergnsson  supposes  that  the  Tabernacle  of  gilded  boards  was  entirely 
uncovered  within  and  without,  and  that  above  this,  and  stretching  beyond 
it  on  either  side,  so  as  completely  to  cover  and  protect  it,  were  the 
curtains  and  coverings,  in  the  form  of  a  tent.  The  beautiful  figured  curtain 




was  first  thrown  over  the  ridge  pole,  and  was  thus  visible  from  the  inside 
of  the  Tabernacle.  Over  this  was  the  cloth  of  goats'  hair,  and  over  this  the 
"rams'  skins  dyed  red."  The  tacJtasJi  skins  he  places  along  the  ridge  pole 
as  a  protection  to  the  joint  of  the  ram-skin  covering. 

Mr.  Paine  supposes  that  the  linen  curtains  were  hung  in  festoons  on  the 
inside  of  the  gilded  boards,  four  cubits  from  the  bottom,  thus  leaving  six 
cubits  of  gilded  boards  uncovered.  Stretched  over 
the  Tabernacle,  in  tent  form,  was  a  double  covering, 
made  of  goats'  hair,  spun  'and  woven  into  cloth  of 
a  dark  brown  color.  This  made  the  roof  of  the 
tent,  and  it  came  down  close  to  the  boarded  sides 
of  the  Tabernacle.  Fergusson's  tent,  it  will  be  re 
membered,  stretches  some  distance  beyond  Next 
to  the  gilded  planks,  on  the  outside,  Paine  puts 
the  tachash  skins,  and  over  these  the  skins  of  the 
rams,  with  the  wool  on  and  dyed  red.  Thus  "the 
Tabernacle  had  red  sides  and  end,  and  a  brown 
roof  and  gable,  nearly  black."— Solomon's  Temple, 
p.  1 6.  He  makes  the  front  entirely  open  above  the 
low  entrance  vail,  and  also  has  a  small  opening  in 
the  rear,  or  west  end,  between  the  top  of  the  gable 
and  the  peak  of  the  roof.  See  engraving  on  p.  77. 
N- thing  is  said  of  the  floor  of  the  Tabernacle; 
whether  of  earth  or  boards  is  not  known.  In  front 
were  five  pillars,  over  which  was  hung  an  em 
broidered  curtain  fora  door.  Exod,  xxxvi,  37,  38. 
There  was  also  a  vail  dividing  the  interior  into  two 
rooms.  This  vail  was  of  embroidery  and  hung  on  four  pillars.  Exod.  xxxvi, 
35,  36.  The  precise  length  of  each  of  these  two  rooms  is  not  given,  though,  from 
the  analogy  between  the  Tabernacle  and  the  Temple,  two  thirds  of  the  space 
are  supposed  to  have  been  given  to  the  first  room  and  the  remaining  third 
to  the  second.  See  1  Kings  vi,  17-20. 

The  first  room,  which  wag  called  the  Holy  Place,  (Exod.  xxviii,  29,)  con 
tained  on  one  side  the  table  of  show-bread,  on  the  other  the  golden  candle 
stick,  (Exod.  xxvi,  35,)  and,  in  front  of  the  vail,  the  golden  altar  of  incense. 
Exod.  xxx,  6.  Behind  the  vail  was  the  second  room,  supposed  to  have  been 
in  the  form  of  a  perfect  cube.  It  contained  the  ark,  and  was  called  the 
Most  Holy  Place.  Exod.  xxvi,  33.  34. 

In  this  Tabernacle  of  the  Israelites  there  was  a  general  resemblance  to 
the  temples  of  other  ancient  nations.  This  resemblance  is  to  be  seen,  among 
other  things,  in  the  secret  place  where  no  one  was  permitted  to  enter,  the 
special  shrine  of  the  Deity. 


Exodus.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  79 

The  wandering  tribes  of  Asia  have  tents  for  their  temples.  They  are 
'arger  than  their  dwelling-tenls,  and  of  better  material  and  workmanship. 


XL,  8.  Thou  shalt  put  therein  the  ark  of  the  testimony,  and 
cover  the  ark  -with  the  vail. 

This  is  called  elsewhere  the  "  ark  of  the  covenant,"  (Deut.  xxxi,  2G,)  and 
"  the  ark  of  God."  1  Sam.  iii,  3.  It  was  made  of  acacia  wood,  overlaid  with 
gold  within  and  without.  It  was  two  cubits  and  a  half  long,  one  cubit 
and  a  half  in  width,  and  the  same  in  height.  An  ornamental  cornice,  or 
"  crown,"  of  gold  ran  around  the  top.  In  each  corner  of  the  ark  was  a  gold 
ring,  arid  through  the  rings  two  gilded  staves  were  kept  for  the  purpose  of 
carrying  it  when  the  Tabernacle  was  removed.  Exod.  xxv,  10-15. 

In  the  work  by  Brown,  referred  to  in  the  last  note,  the  author  expresses 
the  opinion  that  the  ark  had  feet,  and  that  the  rings  were  put  into  these 
feet  in  order,  by  means  of  the  staves,  to  lift  the  ark  on  high  when  it  was 
carried.  He  contends  that  peamoth,  "corners,"  in  Exod.  xxv,  12,  should  be 
rendered  "feet."  G-esenius  also  gives  this  definition  to  the  word. 

The  ark  was  put  into  the  Most  Holy  Place.  Exod.  xxvi,  34.  In  it  were 
placed  the  two  tables  of  the  law,  for  whose  reception  it  was  specially  de 
signed.  Exod.  xxv,  16.  According  to  Heb.  ix.  4,  there  wore  in  addition  to 
these  a  golden  pot  of  inanna  and  Aaron's  rod  which  budded.  Some  think, 
however,  that  this  is  not  in  accordance  with  1  Kings  viii,  9,  and  that  these 
two  objects  were  laid  up  by  the  side  of  the  ark.  The  passage  referred  to 
does  not  prove  that  the  manna  and  the  rod  were  never  in  the  ark,  but  only 
that  they  were  not  there  at  the  time  the  ark  was  put  into  Solomon's  Temple ; 
they  may  have  been  previously  destroyed.  It  has  also  been  supposed  by 
some  that  a  complete  copy  of  the  law  was  placed  within  the  ark.  See  Deut. 
xxxi,  24-26.  Others  claim  that  "in  the  side  "  should  be  "ly  the  side." 

The  cover  was  of  solid  gold,  and  was  called  "the  mercy-seat,"  Exod. 
xxv,  17,  21.  Springing  from  the  ends  of  this  cover  were  two  golden  cheru 
bim  with  outstretched  wings.  Exod.  xxv,  18-20.  No  particular  description 
is  given,  here  or  elsewhere,  of  their  size,  shape,  or  general  appearance.  \Ve 
do  not  know  how  to  account  for  this  failure  to  describe  the  n,  especially 
as  all  other  articles  connected  with  the  Tabernacle  are  minutely  described. 
Whether  the  form  of  the  cherubim  was  so  generally  known  as  to  make  de 
scription  unnecessary,  or  whether  the  description  was  purposely  concealed, 
as  among  the  secrets  of  Jehovah,  cannot  now  be  known.  From  the  account 
given  by  Ezekiel  in  chapter  i,  4-11,  the  cherubim  seem  to  have  been  com 
posite  figures;  but  these  could  not  have  been  in  all  respects  like  the  client- 
bim  over  the  ark,  for  Ezekiel  represents  them  with  four  wings,  each,  two  of 
which  covered  their  bodies ;  while  Moses  speaks  of  the  wings  being  siretulieU 

80  BIBLE    MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [Exodus. 

forth  on  high,  "covering  the  mercy-seat,"  thus  implying  that  they  had  but 
two  wings  each.  More  particular  description  is  given  of  the  colossal  cherubim 
in  the  Temple  of  Solomon,  which  were  probably  patterned  after  those  of 
the  Tabernacle.  These  are  distinctly  stated  to  have  had  two  wings  each, 
and  to  have  stood  with  their  wings  outstretched,  and  their  faces  turned  in 
ward.  2  Chron.  iii,  10-13.  However  composite  the  form,  it  was  doubtkss 
more  human  than  any  thing  else;  in  this  respect  differing  from  the  winged 
figures  of  other  nations.  According  to  the  Jewish  tradition  the  cherubim 
over  the  mercy-seat  had  human  faces. 

Most  of  the  nations  of  antiquity  had  arks,  in  which  they  preserved  some 
secret  things  connected  with  their  religion.  These  arks  were  likewise  com 
monly  surmounted  with  winged  figures,  but  in  spiritual  meaning  they  are  not 
worthy  of  comparison  with  the  ark  of  the  Hebrews.  Clement  of  Alexandria, 
speaking  of  the  Egyptians,  says:  "The  innermost  sanctuary  of  their  temples 
is  overhung  with  gilded  tapestry ;  but  let  the  priest  remove  the  covering, 
and  there  appears  a  cat,  or  a  crocodile,  or  a  domesticated  serpent  wrapped  in 
purple."  How  different  this  from  the  tables  of  the  law,  the  Divine  covenant  I 



XL,  4.  Thou  shalt  bring  in  the  table,  and  set  in  order  the 
things  that  are  to  be  set  in  order  upon  it ;  and  thou  shalt  bring 
in  the  candlestick,  and  light  the  lamps  thereof. 

1.  The  "table  of  show-bread"  was  on  the  north  side  of  the  Holy  Place. 
Exod.  xxvi,  35.  It  was  made  of  acacia  wood  overlaid  with  gold,  was  two 
cubits  long,  one  cubit  wide,  and  a  cubit  and  a  half  high.  It  had  an  orna 
mental  cornice  of  gold  around  the  top,  and  was  furnished  with  rings  of 
gold  and  gilded  staves.  Exod,  xxv,  23-28.  On  it  were  placed  twelve  loaves 

of  bread  in  two  rows  or  piles,  and  on 
each  row  frankincense  was  put.  The 
bread  was  changed  every  Sabbath.  Lev. 
xxiv,  5-9.  There  were  also  golden  vessels 
of  various  kinds,  (Exod.  xxv,  29,)  pn  bably 
for  the  bread,  frankincense,  and  wine. 

The  shape  of  the  table  of  show-bread 
iu  Herod's  Temple  is  preserved  to  us  in 
the  celebrated  triumphal  arch  erected  in 
Rome  to  commemorate  the  destruction  of 
Jerusalem  by  Titus.      Among  the  spoils 
28.— TABLE  OF  &UO\V-DKKAD.         of  war  represented  on  it  are  those  taken 
from  the  Temple.     These  articles  probably  bore  some  general  resemblance 
to  tho.-e  in  Solomon's  Temple  and  iu  the  Tabernacle, 





2.  The  "candlestick"  consisted  of  a  standard 
with  three  branches  on  eacli  side,  thus  affording 
room  for  seven  lamps,  which  were  supplied  with 
olive  oil.  The  candlestick  stood  on  the  south  side 
of  the  Holy  Place,  and  with  its  snuffers  and  tongs 
was  made  of  gold.  Exod.  xxv,  31-40.  Nothing  is 
known  of  its  size,  or  of  the  formation  of  its  base, 
or  of  the  exact  position  of  the  six  branches. 
Whether  the  tops  of  these  branches  were  on  a  level, 
or  in  the  form  of  an  arch;  and  whether  the 
branches  extended  in  the  same  plane  or  in  different 
planes  is  riol  known. 



XL,  5.    Thou   shalt  set    the  altar  of  gold  for   the  incense  before 
the    ark  of  the  testimony. 

This  was  made  of  acacia  wood  covered  with  gold.  It  was  two  cubits 
high,  one  cubit  in  length,  aud 
one  in  breadth.  It  had  four 
li horns"  or  projections  on  the 
four  corners  at  the  top,  and, 
like  the  ark  and  the  table  of 
show-bread,  it  had  a  coruice  of 
gold,  and  rings  and  staves  for 
transportation.  The  rings  were 
of  gold,  and  the  staves  of  acacia 
wood  covered  with  gold.  Exod. 
xxxvii,  25-28.  Its  position  was 
in  the  west  end  of  the  Holy 
Place,  near  the  vail  which  con 
cealed  the  Most  Holy  Place. 
Exod.  xl,  26.  It  was  thus  im 
mediately  in  front  of  the  Ark  of 
the  Covenant,  though  separated 
from  it  by  the  vail. 


XL,  6.    Thou  shalt   set  the    altar   of    the    burnt   offering    before 
the   door  of  the  tabernacle  of  the  tent  of  the  congregation. 

This  altar  was  placed  in  the  court,  not  far  from  the  entrance  to  the 
Tabernacle.  Exod.  xl,  6,  29.  It  was  made  of  acacia  wood,  and  covered 
'with  plates  of  brass.  It  was  five  cubits  long,  five  cubits  broad,  and  three 




cubits  high,  and  had  four  horns  at  the  four  corners.  It  Iiad  brazen  rings, 
and  staves  covered  with  brass  were  provided  for  moving  it.  It  was  hollow, 
and  is  supposed  to  have  been  filled  with  earth,  thus  complying  with  the 
command  in  Exod.  xx,  24.  See  also  Exod.  xxxviii,  1-7. 

Around  the  altar,  midway  from  the  bottom,  was  a  projecting  ledge  on 
which  the  priest  stood  while  offering  sacrifice.  This  is  represented  in  the 
word  karkob,  rendered  "compass,"  in  Exod.  xxvii,  5,  and  xxxviii,  4;  a  word 
which  Gesenius  renders  margin  or  border.  It  is  supposed  that  an  inclined 
plane  of  earth  led  to  this  on  one  side,  probably  the  south.  Thus  we  may 
see  how  Aaron  could  "come  down  "  from  the  altar.  Lev.  ix,  22. 

Yarious  views  have  been  entertained  in  reference  to  the  grating  or  net 
work  spoken  of  in  Exod.  xxvii,  4,  5,  and  xxxviii,  4.  Some  place  it  at  the  top 
of  the  altar,  supposing  that  the  fire  and  the  sacrifice  were  put  upon  it;  but 
if  the  altar  was  filled  with  earth,  as  we  have  supposed,  there  would  scarcely 

have    been  any  need 
of  a  grating  for  such 
a    purpose.       Others 
suppose    the   altar  to 
have  been  only  half- 
filled  with  earth,  and 
that  this  grating  was 
placed   inside  of    the 
81.— ALTAR  OF  BURNT-OFFERING,  ACCORDING  TO  MEYER.        altar  half  way  to  the 
A  ts  the  space  between  the  boards,  over  which  the  utensils  for   bottom,     for  the    pur- 
fire  and  ashes  were  placed,  while  within  were  stones  or  earth,   pose    of    holdino-    the 
B  B  is  the  network  grating,  with  the  projecting  ledge,  as  de-   parti,          r,ntll     °t. 

scribed  in  Exod.  xxvii,  4,  5. 

C  is  the  karkob,  or  ledge  itself,  projecting  from  the  middle  of    tlieones    assume    that 

the  altar.  the    grating   occupied 

D  is  the  incline  toward  it  on  one  side,  for  the  officiating  priest  a   horizontal    position 

to  ascend  by  formed  of  earth  or  stones.  Some      archa3ologists, 

a  o  c  a  ure  the  horns  or  corner  projections  of  the  altar.  , 

however,  suppose  this 

grating  or  network  to  have  been  perpendicular,  and  to  have  dropped 
from  the  edge  of  the  karkob,  or  projecting  ledge,  to  the  ground.  Thus  in 
Exod.  xxvii,  5,  it  is  said,  u  And  thon  shalt  put  it  [that  is,  the  "  grate  of  net 
work  of  brass,"  verse 4]  under  the  compass  [karkob]  of  the  altar  beneath, 
that  the  net  may  be  even  to  the  midst  of  the  altar." 

Meyer  is  very  decidedly  in  favor  of  this  view ;  indeed  we  are  not  sure  but 
lie  ought  to  be  credited  witli  having  first  suggested  it.  After  speaking  of 
the  karkob,  or  ledge,  he  says:  "Under  the  outer  edge  of  this  bench  was  the 
copper  lattice  work,  which  extended  from  it  to  the  ground  on  all  four  sides, 
just  as  the  body  of  the  chest  extended  from  the  inner  edge  of  the  bench.  It 
formed,  with  the  bench  or  the  karkob  around,  an  expanding  set-off,  by  reason 

Exodus.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  83 

of  which  the  under  half  of  the  altar,  on  all  sides,  appeared  wider  than  the 
upper.  On  the  karkob,  bench,  or  pnssage-way,  the  priest  walked  in  order 
to  attend  to  the  sacrifice,  to  lay  wood  upon  the  altar,  or  to  officiate  in  other 
ways.  .  .  .  The  grating  served  to  preserve  the  base  of  the  altar  from  the 
sprinkled  blood  of  the  sacrifices,  (see  Exod.  xxix,  12;  Lev.  iv,  7,)  and  to 
keep  away  from  the  sacred  altar  men  and  the  beasts  to  be  offered  in  sac 
rifice." — Bibddeutungen,  pp.  201-211. 


XL,  7.  Thou  shalt  set  the  laver  between  the  tent  of  the  con 
gregation  and  the  altar,  and  shalt  put  water  therein. 

This  was  made  out  of  the  "  brazen*  mirrors  "  of  the  women,  (Exod.  xxxviii, 
8.)  and  was  used  for  the  ablutions  of  the  priests.  Exod.  xxx,  17-21.  The 
better  to  accomplish  this  purpose  it  was  placed  between  the  brazen  altar 
and  the  door  of  the  Tabernacle.  Exod.  xl,  30-32.  No  description  is  given 
of  its  shape  or  size,  but  it  is  supposed  to  have  been  circular.  In  connection 
with  the  laver  frequent  mention  is  made  of  what  is  called  its  "  foot."  See 
Exod.  xxx,  18,  28;  xxxi,  9;  xxxv,  16;  xxxix.  39;  xl,  11;  Lev.  viii,  11. 
This  has  led  some  commentators  to  believe  that  the  "foot  "  was  something 
more  than  a  mere  pedestal  for  the  support  of  the  laver,  and  they  suppose 
that  it  may  have  been  a  lower  basin  to  catch  the  water  which  flowed  through 
taps  or  otherwise  from  the  laver,  thus  making  a  convenient  arrangement  for 
washing  the  hands  and  feet  of  the  priests. 


XL,  8.  Thou  shalt  set  up  the  court  round  about,  and  hang  up 
the  hanging  at  the  court  gate. 

This  outer  court  which  inclosed  the  Tabernacle  was  one  hundred  cubits 
long  and  fifty  cubits  wide.  It  was  surrounded  by  a  canvas  wall  five  cubits 
high.  The  sides  and  ends,  excepting  the  entrance,  were  made  of  fine  linen 
curtains,  which  were  hung  on  fillets,  or,  more  properly,  rods,  made  of  silver. 
These  silver  rods  were  supported  by  pillars  of  brass,  being  connected  to 
them  by  hooks  of  silver.  There  were  twenty  pillars  on  each  side  and  ten 
on  each  end,  all  of  them  fitted  into  brazen  sockets.  At  the  east  end  of  the 
court  was  the  entrance.  It  occupied  three  panels,  and  was  twenty  cubits 
wide,  thus  taking  up  two  fifths  of  the  front.  The  curtains  of  the  gate  were 
made  of  the  richest  kind  of  needlework,  arid  were  wrought  in  colors. 
Exod.  xxvii,  9-19.  The  frail  walls  of  the  Tabernacle  were  steadied  by  cords, 
which  were  fastened  into  the  ground  at  suitable  distances  by  means  of  tent- 
pins.  See  Exod.  xxxv,  18. 

*  Copper  is  probably  meant  by  the  original  word.    See  note  on  Dan.  v,  4. 

84  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Exodus. 


XL,  13.    Thou  shall  put  upon   Aaron  the   holy  garments. 
AVe  shall  first  notice  the  garments  which  the  high  priest  wore  in  common 
with  the  other  priests: — 

1.  Linen  drawers,  reaching  from  the  loins  to  the  thighs.     Exod.  xxviii,  42. 
Maimonides  (Reasons,  etc.,  p.   267)    says,  that  these  were  to  be  worn  as  an 
evidence  that  the  divine  worship  sanctioned   no   such  impurities  as  were 
associated   with   idolatrous  worship,  and  that  this   is    also  the  reason  for 
the  command  in  Exod.  xx,  26. 

2.  A  tunic,  or  shirt,  of  white  linen.     It  was  made  of  one  piece,  (see  note 
on  John  xix,    23,)   had    sleeves,   and  is  supposed  to  have  reached  to   the 
ankles,  and  to  have  been  of  a  checker   pattern.     Exod.    xxviii,    39,   40 ; 
xxix.  5. 

3.  A  girdle.     This  was  wound   around  the  tunic  between  the  waist  and 
the   shoulders.     Josephus  says   it  was  four- fingers  broad,  and  "  so  loosely 
woven  that  you  would  think  it  were  the  skin  of  a  serpent." — Ant.,  Book  III, 
chap.  7,  §3.     It  was  embroidered  in  colors.     Exod.  xxviii,  39. 

4.  TJie  miter,  or  turban,  made  of  linen,  called  a  bonnet  in  Exod.  xxxix,  28, 
and  elsewhere. 

We  now   notice  the  articles  of  dress  which  were  peculiar  to  the  high 
priest: — 

1.  The  role.     This  was  woven  of  blue  stuff,  in  one  piece,  with  an  opening 
by  which  it  might  be  put  on  over  the  head.     It  was  worn  over  the  tunic, 
but  whether  it  reached  to  the  knees  or  to  the  ankles  is  uncertain.     It  was 
beautifully  ornamented  at  the  bottom  with  pomegranates   in   purple   and 
scarlet.     Little  gold  bells  were  hung  between  these,  and  made  a  tinkling 
sound  whenever  the  wearer  moved.     Exod.  xxxix,  22-26. 

2.  The  ephod.     The  ordinary  priest  also  wore  an  ephod,  (see  1  Sam.  xxii. 
18,)  but  it  was  different  in  material  and  in  style  from  that  of  the  high  priest. 
This  was  made  of  beautifully  colored  woven  work,  variegated   with    gold 
threads,  the  art  of  weaving  which  was  known  to  the  ancient  Egyptians,  from 
whom  the  Israelites  may  have  learned  it.     These  threads  were  made  from  thin 
plates  of  gold  which  were  cut  into  wires.  Exod.  xxxix,  3.     The  ephod  was  in 
two  pieces,  one  for  the  back  and  the  other  for  the  breast.     The  two  pieces 
were  joined  by  ''shoulder  pieces,"  which  were  a  continuation  of  the  front  part 
of  the  ephod.     Exod.  xxviii,  6,  7  ;  xxxix,  4.     On  the  shoulder  pieces  were  two 
precious  stones,  each  having  the  names  of  six  of  the  tribes  of  Israel.  •  These 
stones  were  placed  in  gold  settings,   which  some  think   made  clasps    for 
fastening  the  shoulder  pieces  together.     Exod.  xxviii,  9-12.     The  two  parts 
of  the  ephod  were  fastened  around  the  body  by  means  of  a  girdle,  which  was 
really  a  portion '  of  the  front  part  of  the   ephod.      Exod.  xxviii,   8.      The 
ephod  had  no  sleeves. 




3.  The  breastplate.  This  was  made  of  the  same  material  as  the  ephod 
It  was  half  a  cubit  wide  and  a  cubit  in  length,  but  being  doubled,  it  became 
a  half  cubit  square,  and 
formed  a  pouch  or  pocket. 
On  the  front  of  this  were  four 
rows  of  precious  stones,  three 
in  each  row,  and  on  them 
were  engraved  the  names  of 
the  twelve  tribes.  These 
stones  were  set  in  gold.  The 
breastplate  was  fastened  to 
the  ephod  by  golden  chains. 
Exod.  xxviii.  15-29.  Con 
nected  with  this  breastpla'e 
were  the  Uritu  and  Tnnmmim 
— Lights  and  Perfections — 
but  precisely  what  thes-e  were 
no  man  knows.  They  were 
used  as  a  means  of  consulting 
Jehovah  in  cases  of  doubt. 
Numb,  xxvii,  21;  1  Sam. 
xxviii,  6.  How  they  were 
used  cannot  now  DB  told. 
Some  think  that  the  twelve 
stones  were  the  Uritn  and 
Thumunim.  the  stones  thein- 
selve-i  being  the  Urim,  or, 
L'ghts,  and  the  names  of  the 
tribes  engraven  on  them  being 
the  Thummira,  or  Perfections, 

32.— THE  HIGH -PRIEST  IN  ins  EOBES. 
From  the  fact  that  the  Urim  and  Thummirn 
are  said  to  be  in  the  breastplate,  others  again  think  that  they  were  separate 
from  the  twelve  stones  and  were  put  into  the  pocket  behind  them.  Some 
suppose  them  to  have  been  three  precious  stones  which  were  placed  in  this 
pouch  of  the  breastplate  to  be  used  for  casting  lots  to  decide  questions  of 
doubt;  and  that  on  one  of  the  stones  was  engraven  Yes,  on  another  No,  the 
third  being  without  any  inscription.-  The  stone  drawn  out  by  the  high 
priest  would  indicate  the  answer:  affirmative,  negative,  or  no  answer  to  be 
given.  This  may  have  been  so,  but  there  is  no  proof  of  it.  Trench,  acting 
on  the  suggestion  of  ZuHig,  supposes  the  Urim  and  Thummini  to  have  been 
a  diamond,  kept  in  the  pouch  of  the  breastplate,  and  having  the  ineffable 


because  they  represented  the 
tribes  in  their  tribal  integrity. 

86  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Exodus. 

name  of  the  Deity  inscribed  on  it.  He  thinks  this  is  the  "white  stone" 
referred  to  in  Rev.  ii,  17.  See  Trench  on  the  Epistks  to  the  Seven  Churches, 
(American  Edition,)  p.  177. 

4.  The  diadem.  This  was  a  plate  of  pure  gold  fastened  around  the  miter 
by  blue  ribbons,  and  having  engraved  on  it  the  words  "HOLINESS  TO  THE 
LORD."  (See  page  84.) 



II,  11.  Ye  shall  burn  no  leaven,  nor  any  honey,  in  any  offer 
ing  of  the  Lord  made  by  fire. 

Maimonides  assigns  as  a  reason  for  this  law  that  it  was  "the  practice  of 
the  idolaters  to  offer  only  leavened  bread,  and  to  choose  sweet  things  for 
their  oblations,  and  to  anoint  or  besmear  them  with  honey."— Reasons,  etc., 
p.  275. 

15O.— USE  OF  SALT. 

II,  18.  Every  oblation  of  thy  meat  offering  shalt  thou  season 
•with  salt;  neither  shalt  thou  suffer  the  salt  of  the  covenant  of 
thy  God  to  be  lacking  from  thy  meat  offering  :  with  all  thine 
offerings  thou  shalt  offer  salt. 

The  reason  for  this  law,  according  to  Maimonides,  was  found  in  the  fact 
that  the  heathen  never  offered  salt  in  sacrifices.  If  this  were  the  case  in  the 
time  of  Moses,  their  custom  must  have  changed  subsequently,  since  there  is 
abundant  evidence  of  this  use  of  salt  among  heathen  of  a  later  day.  Some 
suppose  that  they  imitated  in  this  the  Jewish  sacrifices. 

The  partaking  of  salt  by  different  persons  together  is  regarded  among  the 
Arabs  as  a  pledge  of  friendship.  It  is  equivalent  to  a  most  solemn  covenant. 
Numerous  instances  are  recorded  by  travelers  illustrative  of  this.  So  deeply 
rooted  is  this  sentiment,  that  intended  robbery  has  been  abandoned  when  the 
robber  has  accidentally  eaten  salt  while  getting  his  plunder.  Travelers  have 
sometimes  secured  their  safety  in  the  midst  of  wild  Bedawin  by  ushig 
stratagem  in  getting  the  Arabs  to  eat  salt  with  them.  Margregor  tells 
how  he  thus  outwitted  a  sheikh  who  had  made  him  a  prisoner,  and 
whose  disposition  seemed  to  be  unfriendly.  "We  had  now  eaten  salt  to 
gether,  and  in  his  own  tent,  and  so  he  was  bound  by  the  strongest  tie,  and 
he  knew  it."—  The  Rob  Roy  on  the  Jordan,  p.  260. 

By  thus  using  salt  in  their  sacrifices  the  peopi'e  were  bound  to  Jehovah 
in  most  solemn  covenant.  Hence  we  read  of  the  "covenant  of  salt."  Num. 
xviii,  19'  2  Chron.  xiii,  5. 

Leviticus.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  87 


VI,  9.  This  is  the  law  of  the  burnt-offering :  It  is  the  burnt- 
offering,  because  of  the  burning  upon  the  altar  all  night  unto 
the  morning,  and.  the  fire  of  the  altar  shall  be  burning  in  it. 

The  different  victims  for  the  burnt-offering  were  bullocks,  sheep,  goats, 
turtle  doves,  and  young  pigeons.  The  person  making  this  voluntary  offering, 
when  he  offered  a  bullock,  put  his  hand  on  the  victim's  head,  and  then  slew 
the  animal.  The  priests  took  the  blood  and  sprinkled  it  all  around  the  great 
altar.  In  Solomon's  Temple  there  was  a  red  line  half  way  up  the  sides  of 
the  great  altar ;  some  of  the  blood  was  sprinkled  above  and  some  below 
this  line.  See  LIGHTFOOT,  Works,  (Ed.  Pitman,)  ix,  75.  After  the  blood  was 
sprinkled  the  person  offering  flayed  the  animal  and  cut  him  in  pieces. 
In  after  times  the  priests  and  Levites  sometimes  did  this.  2  Chron. 
xxix,  34.  The  entire  offering  was  then  burnt  by  the  priests.  If  the  offering 
consisted  of  a  goat,  a  sheep,  or  fowls,  the  ceremony  was  slightly  changed. 

The  burnt-offering  was  the  only  offering  that  was  entirely  burnt.  Thus 
it  is  sometimes  called  the  "whole"  burnt-offering.  Deut.  xxxiii,  10;  Psa. 
li,  19.  The  burning  was  to  be  so  gradual  that  it  should  last  from  morning 
to  evening,  or  from  one  daily  sacrifice  to  the  next.  It  was  commanded  that 
the  fire  on  the  altar  should  never  go  out.  See  Lev.  6  :  13. 

The  burnt-offering  is  described  in  detail  in  Lev.  i,  1—17  ;  vi,  8-13. 

The  design  of  the  burnt-offering  is  uot  clearly  stated  in  the  Bible,  and 
learned  Jews  differ  in  reference  to  it ;  some  affirming  that  it  was  for  evil 
thoughts,  others  that  it  was  for  a  violation  of  affirmative  precepts.  Many 
Christian  divines  regard  it  as  a  symbol  of  entire  and  perpetual  consecration  to 
God  ;  self-dedication,  following  upon  and  growing  out  of  pardon  and  accept 
ance  with  God.  See  FAIRBAIRN'S  Typology,  vol.  ii,  p.  316. 

¥1,14.    This  is  the  law  of  the  meat-offering. 

The  meat-offering  was  wholly  vegetable  in  its  nature,  and  was  sometimes 
presented  in  a  raw  state  and  sometimes  baked.  Specific  directions  were 
given  concerning  the  ceremonies  to  be  observed  in  either  case.  A  portion 
only  was  consumed  in  the  fire,  and  the  rest  was  given  to  the  priest.  Neither 
leaven  nor  honey  was  allowed  to  be  mixed  with  it.  It  usually  accompanied  and 
was  subsidiary  to  the  sin  and  burnt  offerings,  and  the  quantity  offered  was 
graduated  according  to  the  victim  presented  as  a  burnt-offering.  Num.  xv, 
4,  5,  6,  9. 

It  is  supposed  that  oil  was  used  to  give  the  meat-offering  a  grateful 
relish ;  and  frankincense  to  make  a  sweet  odor  in  the  court  of  the  Taber 
nacle.  Paul  alludes  to  the  fragrant  meat-offering  in  Phil,  iv,  18.  The 

88  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Leviticus. 

heathen  used  oil  in  their  sacrifices,  not  mixed  with  flour,  but  poured  over 
the  burnt-offerings,  to  make  the  burning  better.  They  likewise  made  free 
use  of  frankincense  in  their  sacrifices.  Full  directions  concerning  the  meat 
offering  are  given  in  Lev.  ii,  1-16;  vi,  14-23. 

VI,  25.    This  is  the  law  of  the   sin-offering. 

There  were  two  kinds  of  sin-offering:  one  for  the  whole  congregation 
and  the  other  for  individuals.  For  the  first  kind  a  young  bullock  was 
brought  into  the  outer  court  of  the  Tabernacle,  where  the  elders  laid  their 
hands  upon  his  head  atid  he  was  killed.  The  high  priest  then  took  the 
blood  into  the  Holy  Place  and  sprinkled  it  seven  times  before  the  vail,  put 
ting  some  on  the  horns  of  the  golden  altar  of  incense.  The  remainder  of 
the  blood  was  then  poured  out  at  the  foot  of  the  nltar  of  burnt-offering.  The 
fat  of  the  animal  was  burnt  upon  the  altar,  and  the  rest  of  the  body  was 
taken  without  the  camp  and  burnt.  Lev.  iv,  13-21. 

Of  the  second  kind  of  sin-offering  there  were  three  varieties.  The  first 
was  for  the  high  priest.  The  ceremonies  only  slightly  varied  from  those  just 
described.  Lev.  iv,  3-12.  The  second  was  for  any  of  the  rulers  of  the 
people.  A  kid  was  killed  instead  of  a  bullock.  The  priest  did  not  enter  the 
Holy  Place,  but  merely  put  some  of  the  blood  on  the  horns  of  the  altar  of 
burnt-offering,  and  poured  the  rest  out  by  the  foot  of  the  altar.  The  fat  was 
burned  upon  the  altar.  Lev.  iv,  22-26.  The  third  was  for  any  of  the  com 
mon  people.  A  female  kid  or  lamb  was  brought  and  treated  as  in  the  case 
just  described.  Lev.  iv,  27-35.  If  poverty  prevented  the  procuring  of  kid 
or  lamb,  two  turtle  doves  or  two  young  pigeons  could  be  substituted;  and 
for  the  very  poorest  a  small  offering  of  fine  flour.  Lev.  v,  7-13. 

What  was  left  of  the  sin-offering  for  one  of  the  rulers  or  for  one  of  the 
common  people  was  not  burned  without  the  camp,  as  in  the  two  other 
instances,  but  was  eaten  by  the  priests  and  their  sons.  It  was  considered 
peculiarly  holy,  and  special  directions  were  given  concerning  the  vessels  in 
which  it  was  cooked.  Lev.  vi,  24-30.  The  sin-offering  was  offered  for 
sins  of  ignorance  against  negative  precepts.  Lev.  iv,  2,  13,  22,  27. 


VII,  1.    This  is  the  law  of  the  trespass-offering. 

The  trespass-offering  was  similar  to  the  sin-offering;  yet  there  were  several 
important  points  of  distinction.  In  the  trespass-offering  rams  were  offered, 
and  the  blood  was  sprinkled  around  the  altar  of  burnt-offering.  Lev.  v,  18; 
vii,  2.  The  priest  was  required  to  make  a  special  valuation  of  the  ram 
offered.  Lev.  v,  15,  16. 

The  trespass-offering  was  offered  in  cases  of  trespass  committed  in  holy 

Leviticus.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  89 

flings:  dishonesty  or  falsehood  in  a  trust;  robbery  joined  with  deceit;  dis 
honesty  and  falsehood  in  reference  to  things  found.     Lev.  v,  15-vi,  7. 


VII,  9.  All  the  meat-offering  that  is  baken  in  the  oven,  and 
all  that  is  dressed  in  the  frying-pan,  and  in  the  pan,  shall  be 
the  priest's  that  offereth  it. 

1.  One  form  of  oven  common  in  the  East  consists  of  a  hole  dug  in  the 
ground  four  or  five  feet  deep  and  three  feet  in  diameter,  and  well  plastered 
When  the  oven  is  thoroughly  heated 

the  dough   is   rolled  out  no  thicker 

than  a  finger,   and  is   stuck   against 

the  sides    of  the   oven,   where   it  is 

instantly    baked.      Another   oven    is 

made  of  a  great  stone  pitcher,  in  the 

bottom  of  which  a  fire  is  made  among 

small   flints   which  Yetain   the    heat. 

On  these  the  dough  is  placed  and  is 

soon  baked.     Sometimes  it  is  rolled 

out  very  thin,  and   is    stuck    on    the 

outside  of  the  heated  pitcher,  whence 

it  instantly  falls,  baked  through.      It  88.— ARAB  OVEX. 

is  thought  by  some  that  reference  is  made  to  this  pitcher-oven  in  Lev.  ii,  4, 

and  that  the   "unleavened  cakes  of  fine  flour  mixed  with  oil"  were  to  be 

baked  inside  the  pitcher,   and  the  "unleavened  wafers  anointed  with  oil " 

were  to  be  baked  on  the  outside;  the  "cakes  "  being  mixed  with  oil,  while 

the  "  wafers,"  rolled  out  thinner,  were  only  smeared  with  it. 

2.  The  "frying-pan"  (marchesheth)  was  a  deep  vessel  of  iron  used  for 
boiling  meat,  and  which  could  also  be  used  for  baking  bread. 

3.  The  "  pan  "  was  a  thin  flat  plate  of  iron  on  which  bread  could  be  quickly 
baked  as  on  our  griddles.     This  is  the  utensil  referred  to  in  Kzek.  iv,  3. 


VII,  11.  This  is  the  law  of  the  sacrifice  of  peace-offerings. 
Peace-offerings  were  of  three  kinds:  1.  Thank-offerings;  2.  Free-will 
offerings;  3.  Offerings  for  vows.  Lev.  vii,  12,  16.  The  peace-offering  might 
be  either  of  the  herd  or  of  the  flock,  and  either  male  or  female.  Lev/iii, 
1,  7,  12.  The  offerings  were  accompanied  by  the  imposition  of  hands,  and 
by  the  sprinkling  of  blood  around  the  great  altar,  on  which  the  fat  and  the 
parts  accompanying  were  burnt.  Lev.  iii,  1-5.  When  offered  for  a  thanksgiving 
a  meat-offering  was  presented  with  it.  Lev.  vii,  12,  13.  A  peculiarity  of  the 
peace-offering  was,  that  the  breast  was  waved  and  the  shoulder  heaved.  Lev. 
vii,  34.  According  to  Jewish  tradition  .this  ceremony  was  performed  by  lay- 

90  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [Leviticus. 

ing  the  parts  on  the  hands  of  the  offerer,  the  priest  putting  his  hands  again 
underneath,  and  then  moving  them  in  a  horizontal  direction  for  the  waving, 
and  in  a  vertical  direction  for  the  heaving.  This  is  supposed  to  have  been 
intended  as  a  presentation  of  the  parts  to  God  as  the  supreme  Ruler  in 
heaven  and  on  earth.  The  "wave-breast"  and  the  "heave-shoulder"  were 
the  perquisites  of  the  priests.  Lev.  vii,  31-34.  The  remainder  of  the  victim, 
excepting  what  was  burnt,  was  consumed  by  the  offerer  and  his  family,  un 
der  certain  restrictions.  Lev.  vii,  19-21.  It  has  been  suggested  that  this 
ceremony  of  eating  the  peace-offerings  by  the  offerer  and  his  family  may 
have  given  rise  to  the  custom  among  the  heathen  of  eating  flesh  offered  to 
idols  in  an  idol  temple.  1  Cor.  viii,  10.  See  BROWN'S  Antiq.  Jews,  i,  376. 

XI,  83.  Every  earthen  vessel,  whereinto  any  of  them  [that  is 
the  weasel,  the  mouse,  etc.,  named  in  verses  29,  30,]  falleth,  whatsoever  is  in  it 
Shall  be  unclean  ;  and  ye  shall  break  it. 

This  is  an  illustration  of  the  great  attention  paid  by  the  Jews  to  ceremo 
nial  purity.  Earthenware,  being  porous,  was  capable  of  absorbing  any  un- 
cleanness,  and  hence  mere  washing  or  scouring  was  not  sufficient  to  purify 
it:  it  must  be  destroyed.  For  a  reason  precisely  opposite  to  this,  earthen 
vessels  used  in  connection  with  the  sin-offering  were  destroyed,  lesfc  after 
ward  any  unclean  thing  should  be  put  into  them.  See  Lev.  vi,  28. 

15§.— RANGES. 

XI,  35.  Whether  it  be  oven,  or  ranges  for  pots,  they  shall 
be  broken  down. 

Some  think  that  instead  of  "  ranges  for  pots,"  we  should  read  "  pots  with 
lids."  Others  refer  the  words  to  some  arrangement  by  which  two  or  more 
cooking  vessels  could  be  used  at  once,  thus  economizing  fuel.  RAUWOLFP 
(cited  by  HARMER.  Chv.,  i,  465)  describes  an  apparatus  he  saw  among  the 
Arabs  which  may  have  been  similar  to  the  "  ranges "  spoken  of  here.  A 
hole  was  dug  in  the  ground  about  a  foot  and  a  half  deep,  into  which  the 
earthen  pipkins  were  put  filled  with  meat  and  with  covers  on.  Stones  were 
piled  around  the  pots  on  three  sides  of  the  little  pit,  and  on  the  fourth  side 
the  Arabs  threw  the  fuel.  In  a  short  time  the  heat  was  intense,  and  the 
meat  cooked.  The  expression  "broken  down,"  in  the  text,  may  refer  to  the 
taking  apart  of  the  rude  structure. 

159.— MORTAR. 

XIV,  42.  He  shall  take  other  mortar,  and  shall  plaster  the  house. 
There  were  several  kinds  of  mortar  used  by  the  Hebrews.  Sometimes 
they  used  common  mud  and  clay,  mixed  with  straw  chopped  and  beaten 
small.  This  may  have  been  the  kind  especially  referred  to  in  (he  text. 
Aphar,  "mortar."  is  frequently  rendered  ''dust,"  and  indeed  is  so  tiaus-latcd 

Leviticus.]  B I B  L  K  M  AN N  E KS  A  N  I )  '  C  L*  STO  M  S .  9 1 

ji  the  verse  preceding,  where  reference  is  made  to  the  coating  of  old  mortar 
which  was  scraped  from  the  outside  of  the  house.  They  also  had  several 
varieties  of  calcareous  earth,  any  of  which,  mixed  with  ashes,  made  a  good 
mortar.  They  likewise  prepared  an  excellent  cement  of  one  part  sand,  two 
parts  ashes,  and  three  parts  lime.  These  ingredients  were  well  pounded,  and 
were  sometimes  mixed  with  oil,  while  at  other  times  the  oil  was  put  on  as 
an  outer  coating. 

Mortar  was  usually  mixed  by  being  trodden  with  ihe  feet,  but  wheels  were 
sometimes  used. 


XVI,  21.     Both    his   hands   upon   the    head   of   the   live   goat. 

It  was  customary  among  the  Egyptians  for  the  person  offering  sacrifice 
to  wish  that  all  evil  might  be  kept  from  him  and  fall  on  the  head  of  his  vic 
tim.  For  this  reason  the  Egyptians  would  not  eat  the  head  of  any  animal, 
but  sold  it  to  the  Greeks  or  else  threw  it  into  the  river. 


XVI,  84  This  shall  be  an  everlasting  statute  unto  you,  to  make 
an  atonement  for  the  children  of  Israel  for  all  their  sins  onee 
a  year. 

The  Great  Day  of  Atonement  took  place  on  the  tenth  day  of  the  seventh 
month,  Tisri,  corresponding  to  our  October.  It  was  a  day  of  great  solemnity, 
especially  designated  and  kept  as  a  fatt  day,  (see  Lev.  xxiii,  27;  Num. 
xxix,  7 ;  comp.  Psa.  xxxv,  13  •  Isa.  Iviii,  5,)  and  in  later  times  was  known  by 
the  name  of  The  Fast.  Acts  xxvii,  9.  On  this  day  the  high  priest,  clad  in 
plain  white  linen  garments,  brought  for  himself  a  young  bullock  for  a  sin- 
offering  and  a  ram  for  a  burnt-offering;  and  for  the  people  two  young  goats 
for  a  sin-offering,  and  a  ram  for  a  burnt-offering.  The  two  goats  were 
brought  before  the  door  of  the  Tabernacle,  and  by  the  casting  of  lots  one  was 
designated  for  sacrifice  and  the  other  for  a  scape-goat.  The  high  priest  then 
slaughtered  the  bullock  and  made  a  sin-offering  for  himself  and  family.  He 
next  entered  the  Most  Holy  Place  for  the  first  time,  bearing  a  censer  with 
burning  coals,  with  which  he  filled  the  place  with  incense.  Taking  the  blood 
of  the  slain  bullock,  he  entered  the  Most  Holy  Place  the  second  time,  and 
there  sprinkled  the  blood  before  the  mercy-seat.  He  next  killed  the  goat 
which  was  for  the  people's  sin-offering,  and,  entering  the  Most  Holy  Place  the 
third  time,  sprinkled  its  blood  as  he  had  sprinkled  that  of  the  bullock.  Some 
of  the  blood  of  the  two  animals  was  then  put  on  the  horns  of  the  altar  of 
incense,  and  sprinkled  on  the  altar  itself.  After  this  the  hijth  priest,  putting 
his  hands  on  the  head  of  the  scape-goat,  confessed  theVmsof  the  people,  and 
then  sent  him  off  into  the  wilderness.  He  then  washed  himself,  and  changed 
his  garments,  arraying  himself  in  the  beautiful  robes  of  his  hi^li  office,  at  d 
oflVed  ihe  two  rams  as  burnt-offerings  for  himself  and  for  the  people.  Lev.  xvi. 

92  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Leviticus. 


XVII,  7.    They   shall   no   more   offer  their  sacrifices   unto  devils. 

Seirim.  here  and  in  2  Cliron.  xi.  15.  rendered  "devils."  is  derived  from 
a  word  signifying-  hairy,  shaggy,  rough,  from  which  it  is  used  to  designate 
he-goats.  The  Egyptians  worshiped  the  goat  under  the  name  of  Mendes,  by 
which  name  a  province  in  Egypt  was  called.  The  goat  was  worshiped  as  a 
personification  of  the  fructifying  power  of  nature,  and  was  reckoned  among 
the  eight  principal  gods  of  Egypt.  A  splendid  temple  was  dedicated  to 
Mencles,  and  statues  of  the  god  were  erected  in  many  places.  The  Israelites 
doubtless  learned  the  worship  of  the  Seirim  among  the  Egyptians.  It  was 
accompanied  with  the  vilest  acts  of  bestiality. 

163.— MOLECH. 

XVIII,  21.    Thou   shall  not  let  any  of  thy  seed  pass  through  the 
fire  to    Moleeh. 

Moled i  (sometimes  written  Moloch)  was  an  old  Canaanitish  idol,  into 
whose  worship  the  Israelites  gradually  became  drawn.  Similar  rites 
were  performed  among  other  nations,  probably  varying  at  different  times 
and  in  different  places.  The  usual  description  given  of  this  god  is  that  of  a 
hollow  image  made  of  brass,  and  having  a  human  body  with  the  head  of  an 
ox.  The  idol  sat  on  a  brazen  throne  with  hands  extended.  In  sacrificing 
to  it  the  image  was  heated  to  redness  by  a  fire  built  within.  The  parents 
then  placed  their  children  in  the  heated  arms,  while  the  noise  of  drums  and 
cymbals  drowned  the  cries  of  the  little  sufferers.  It  is  also  said  that  there 
were  seven  chapels  connected  with  the  idol,  which  were  to  be  entered  ac 
cording  to  the  relative  value  of  the  offering  presented;  only  those  who 
offered  children  being  allowed  to  enter  the  seventh.  Miniatures  of  these  are 
supposed  to  be  the  "tabernacle"  referred  to  in  Amos  v,  26;  Acts  vii.  43. 
Others  think  the  "tabernacle  "  was  a  shrine  or  ark  in  which  the  god  was 
carried  in  procession. 

Some  eminent  writers  deny  that  the  description  above  given  refers  to 
the  Moleeh  of  the  Old  Testament.  The  Bible  itself  gives  no  account  of  the 
idol  save  that  children  were  made  to  "pass  through  the  fire"  to  it.  A 
diversity  of  opinion  prevails  as  to  the  meaning  of  this  expression.  Most 
Jewish  writers  claim  that  it  does  not  imply  the  actual  sacrificing  or  burning 
of  the  children,  but  merely  an  idolatrous  ceremonial  purification;  a  fire  bap 
tism,  which  was  accomplished  by  carrying  the  children  between  fires,  or 
leaping  over  fires  with  them,  or  causing  them  to  do  the  same.  However 
this  may  have  been  in  earlier  times,  it  is  certain  that  the  service  of  Moloch 

Leviticus.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  93 

implied  more  than  this  at  some  periods  of  Jewish  history.  la  tie  days  ol 
Ezekiel  God's  testimony  was,  '•  Thou  hast  slain  rny  children,  and  delivered 
them  to  cause  them  to  pass  through  the  fire  for  them."  Ezek.  xyi,  21.  Here 
passing  through  the  fire  is  evidently  synonymous  with  death.  See  also 
2  Chron.  xxviii,  3;  Psa.  cvi,  37,  38;  Jer.  vii,  31. 

Frequent  reference  is  made  in  the  Scriptures  to  this  heathen  abomination. 
See  2  Kings  xvi,  3 ;  xvii,  17;  xxi,  6  ;  xxiii,  10;  Jer.  xxxii,  35  ;  Ezek.  xx,  31. 
The  crime  was  threatened  with  the  severest  punishment.  Lev.  xx,  1-5. 

Human  sacrifices  were  anciently  known  to  the  Phenicians,  Egyptians,  Car 
thaginians,  and  other  nations. 

Some  writers  have  sought  to  idpntify  the  worship  of  Molech  with  that  of 
Baal.  Others  suppose  that,  according  to  the  well-known  astrological  char 
acter  of  the  Phenician  and  Syrian  religions,  Molech  was  the  planet  Saturn. 
Winer  says :  "  The  dearest  ones  might  well  be  sacrificed  to  a  star  so  dreaded 
as  Saturn,  in  order  to  appease  it,  especially  by  nations  who  were  by  no 
means  strangers  to  human  sacrifices." — Biblisch.  Eealw.,  s.  v.  Molech. 


XIX,  23.  Ye  shall  count  the  fruit  thereof  as  uneireumeiseci  : 
three  years  shall  it  be  as  uneireumeised  unto  you  :  it  shall  not 
be  eaten  of. 

The  fruit  of  young  trees  was  not  to  be  eaten  until  the  fourth  year  after  be 
ing  planted,  because  of  certain  heathen  superstitions.  Maimonides  says 
that  the  idolaters  believed  that  un'es^  the  first-fruits  of  every  tree  were  used 
in  connection  with  certain  idolatrous  ceremonies  the  tiee  would  suffer  some 
great  harm,  and  perhaps  die.  They  further  made  use  of  magical  rites  for 
the  purpose  of  hastening  the  bearing  of  fruit.  The  law  in  the  text  was 
aimed  at  this  folly,  for  as  no  fruit  could  be  touched  until  the  fourth  year,  tho 
Hebrews  could  not  offer  the  first  of  the  fruit  as  the  idolaters  did  ;  nor  would 
it  be  of  any  use  to  seek,  by  incantations  and  sprinklings,  to  hasten  the  com 
ing  of  the  fruit,  since  they  could  not  eat  it  before  the  time  designated,  and 
long  before  that  it  would  come  naturally. 


XIX,  27.  Ye  shall  not  round  the  corners  of  your  heads,  nei 
ther  shalt  thou  mar  the  corners  of  thy  beard. 

Among  the  ancients  the  hair  was  often  used  in  divination.  The  worship 
ers  of  the  stars  and  planets  cut  their  hair  evenly  around,  trimming  the  ex 
tremities.  According  to  Herodotus  the  Arabs  were  accustomed  to  shave 
the  hair  around  the  head,  and  let  a  tuft  stand  up  on  the  crown  in  honor  of 
Bacchus.  He  says  the  same  thing  concerning  the  Macians,  a  people  of 

94  BIBLE   MANNERS   ANL    CUSTOMS.  [Leviticus. 

Northern  Africa.  This  custom  is  at  present  common  in  J.JCUH  and  Cnina. 
The  Chinese  let  the  tuft  grow  until  it  is  long  enough  to  be  plaited  into  a 

By  the  idolaters  the  beard  was   also  carefully  trimmed  round  and  even. 
This  was  forbidden  to  the  Jews.     Dr.  Robinson  says,  that  to  this  day  the 
Jews  in  the  East  are  distinguished  in  tin's  respect  from  the  Mohammedans 
the  latter  trimming  their  beard,  the  former  allowing  the  extremities  to  gro\v 

It  was  also  an  ancient  superstitious  custom  to  cut  off  the  hair  at  the  death 
of  friends  and  throw  it  into  the  sepulcher  on  the  corpse.  It  was  sometimes 
laid  on  the  face  and  breast  of  the  deceased  as  an  offering  to  the  infernal  gods. 
From  the  verse  following  it  would  seem  that  this  custom,  as  well  as  the 
other,  may  be  referred  to  in  the  text. 

The  expression  "utmost  corners'1  in  Jer.  ix.  26;  xxv,  23;  xlix,  32  refers 
not  to  any  dwelling-place,  but  to  the  custom  forbidden  in  Leviticus;  and 
accordingly  the  margin  reads,  "  cut  off  into  corners,  or  having  the  corners 
[of  their  hair]  polled." 


XIX,  28.  Ye  shall  not  make  any  cuttings  in  your  flesh  for  the 
dead,  nor  print  any  marks  upon  you. 

1.  The  custom   of  scratching  the  arms,    hands,  and   face  as  tokens  of 
mourning  for  the  dead  is  said  to  have  existed  among   the   Babylonians, 
Armenians,  Scythians,  and  Romans,  and  is  practiced  by  the  Arabs,  Persians, 
and  Abyssinians  of  the  present  day,  and  also  by  the  New  Zealanders.     It 
was  sometimes  accompanied  by  shaving  the  hair  from  the  forehead.     See 
Lev.  xxi,  5  ;  Dent,  xiv,  1 ;  Jer.  xvi,  6  ;  xlviii,  37.     Some  suppose  that  refer 
ence  is  made  in  Zech.  xiii,  6.  to  this  custom  of  cutting  the  hands  as  a  token 
of  mourning. 

2.  The  Orientals  are  very  fond  of  tattoo'ng.      Figures   of  birds,    tree?, 
flowers,  temples,   and  gods  are  carefully  and  painrully  marked  in  their  flesh 
with  colors  by  the  puncturing  of  sharp  needles.     This  is  still  done  in  India 
for  idolatrous  purposes,  and,  in  the  time  of  Moses,  probably  had  some  con 
nection  with  idolatry.     Others  do  it  for  eccentric  desire  of  adornment,  as  we 
sometimes  find  our  own  sailors  printing  their  names  and  making  representa 
tions  of  ships,  anchors,  and  other  objects  on  their  arms  by  means  of  needles 
and  india-ink,  the  latter  mingling  with  the  blood  drawn  by  the  needles,  aiid 
leaving  an  indelible  mark  of  a  light  blue.     See  note  on  Isa.  xlix,  1C,  and  also 
on  Gal.  vi,  17. 

167.— THE  HIN. 
XIX,  36.    A    just    hin. 
The  hin  was  a  liquid  measure  containing  about  ten  pints. 

Leviticus-]  BIBLE   HANKERS   AND   CUSTOMS. 


XXII,  8.    That  which   dieth  of  itself,  or  is   torn   with    beasts,    he 
shall  not  eat  to  defile   himself  therewith. 

1.  It  might  not  be  necessary  among  us  to  forbid  the  eating  of  animals 
which  have  died  of  disease,  but  in  the  East  the  lower  classes  will  eat  such 
food.     Tavernier  not'ced  that  in  Ispahan  dead  horses,  camels,  and  mules 
were  bought  by  people  who  made  hashes  of  the  meat,  which  they  sold  to 
the  poor  day-laborers. 

2.  The  ancient  Greeks  prohibited  the  eating  of  the  flesh  of  animals  which 
had  been  torn  by  wild  beasts.     The  Mohammedans  have  a  similar  rule.     Some 
commentators  suppose  this  prohibition  to  be  grounded  on  the  fact  that  the 
animals  thus  torn  may  have  been  killed  by  wolves,  dogs,  or  foxes  which 
were  mad,  and  the  flesh  in  this  way  rendered  unwholesome. 

The  text  is  specially  addressed  to  the  priests;  so  also  is  Ezek.  xliv,  31 
A  similar  command,  directed  to  the  people  at  large,  is  found  in  Exod 
xxii,  31,  and  Lev.  xvii,  15. 


XXIII,  18.    They    shall    be   for    a   burnt-offering   unto    the    Lord 
with  their   meat-offering,    and  their  drink-offerings. 

Accompanying  other  offerings  was  the  drink-offering,  which  consisted  of  a 
certain  quantity  of  wine,  proportioned  to  the  nature  of  the  sacrifice.  This 
was  taken  by  the  priest,  and  poured  out  like  the  blood  at  the  foot  of  the  altar 
of  burnt-offering.  For  a  bullock,  half  a  hin  (five  pints)  of  wine  was  used; 
for  a  ram,  a  third  of  a  hin  ;  and  for  a  lamb  or  kid,  a  fourth  of  a  hin. 
See  Num.  xv,  4-12.  In  the  temple  service  the  pouring  out  of  the  wine  of 
the  drink-offering  at  the  morning  and  evening  sacrifice  was  the  signal  for 
the  priests  and  Levites  to  begin  their  song  of  praise  to  God. 


XXIII,  24.  In  the  seventh  month,  in  the  first  day  of  the  month, 
shall  ye  have  a  sabbath,  a  memorial  of  blowing  of  trumpets, 
a  holy  convocation. 

This  festival,  commonly  called  the  "  Feast  of  Trumpets,"  is  universally  re 
garded  by  the  Jews  as  the  Festival  of  the  New  Year,  which  began  with  the 
seventh  month,  Tisri.  As  it  occurred  at  the  new  rnoon,  and  on  the  first  day 
of  the  month  in  wh'ch  the  Great  Day  of  Atonement  and  the  Feast  of 
Tabernacles  took  place,  it  was  an  occasion  of  great  interest.  It  has  ever 
been  observed  by  the  Jews  as  connected  with  the  Day  of  Atonement,  and  the 
ten  days  between  the  two  are  considered  days  of  preparation  for  the  solemn 
day.  The  silver  trumpets,  which  were  ordered  to  be  prepared  for  the  pur 
pose  of  calling  the  people  together.  (Num.  x,  1-10,)  were  blown  on  this  dav 

96  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Leviticus. 

more  than  at  other  times,  because  the  new  year  and  the  new  month  began 
together.     Hence  the  name  by  which  the  feast  is  commonly  called. 

The  day  was  kept  as  a  Sabbath,  no  work  being  performed.  The  usual 
daily  morning  sacrifice  was  offered,  then  the  monthly  sacrifice  of  the  new 
moon,  and  then  the  sacrifice  peculiar  to  the  day,  which  consisted  of  a 
bullock,  a  ram,  and  seven  lambs  for  a  burnt-offering,  and  a  kid  for  a  sin- 
offering.  Num.  xxix,  1-G. 


XXV,  4.  The  seventh  year  shall  be  a  sabbath,  of  rest  unto  the 
land,  a  sabbath  for  the  Lord:  thou  shall  neither  sow  thy  field, 
nor  prune  thy  vineyard. 

Every  seventh  year  was  to  be  a  time  of  recuperation  to  the  soil.  The 
spontaneous  produce  of  this  Sabbatical  Year  was  free  to  all  comers,  but 
especially  to  the  poor.  Exod.  xxiii,  11  ;  Lev.  xxv,  6.  It  was  also  a  time 
for  the  debtor  to  be  released  by  his  creditor.  Dent.  xv,  1.  2.  During  the 
Feast  of  Tabernacles  of  this  year  the  law  was  publicly  read  to  the  people. 
Deut.  xxxi,  10-13. 


XXV,  10.    Ye  shall  hallow  the  fiftieth  year,  and  proclaim  liberty 
throughout    all    the    land    unto    all    the    inhabitants    thereof:     it 
shall  be  a  jubilee  unto  you. 

The  Year  of  Jubilee  was  ushered  in  by  the  sound  of  trumpets  through  the 
land,  every  fiftieth  year,  on  the  Great  Day  of  Atonement.  Like  the  Sab 
batical  Year,  it  was  a  year  of  rest  to  the  soil.  Lev.  xxv,  11.  Thus  two 
idle  years  came  together  every  fifty  years,  and  God  promised  by  special 
providence  to  give  such  a  plentiful  harvest  during  the  sixth  year  that  there 
should  be  enough  until  the  harvest  of  the  ninth  year  could  be  gathered. 
Lev.  xxv.  20-22.  See  also  2  Kings  xix,  29  ;  Isa.  xxxvii,  30.  A  similar 
providence  no  doubt  watched  over  the  productions  of  the  season  before  the 
Sabbatical  Year,  in  addition  to  the  spontaneous  growth  of  that  year.  All 
their  transfers  of  real  estate  were  made  in  reference  to  the  Year  of 
Jubilee,  and  the  poor  and  unfortunate  were  specially  favored.  Lev.  xxv. 

173.—  STONE  IDOLS. 

XXVI,  1.     Neither  shall   ye   set   up    any  image  of  stone   in  your 
land,  to  bow  down  unto  it:  for  I    am   the  Lord  your  God. 

Maskith,  here  rendered  "  image,"  is  in  Num.  xxxiii,  52,  (where  the  word  is 
in  the  plural)  translated  "pictures."  Some  writers  suppose  that  eben  mas- 
kith,  "figure  stone,"  is  a  stone  formed  into  a  figure;  that  is,  an  idol  of  stone 
in  distinction  to  one  made  of  iron  or  of  wood.  See  Keil,  Com.  in  loco. 

Leviticus.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  97 

Others,  however,  regard  it  as  referring  to  stones  with  figures  or  hieroglyphic 
inscriptions  on  them;  "pictured"  or  "engraven  stones,"  which  in  that  age 
Df  idolatry  were  worshiped. 


XXVL,  30.  I  will  destroy  your  high  places,  and.  cut  down  your 

1.  Frequent  mention  is  made  in  the  Scriptures  of  the  "high  places"  of 
the  heathen,  where  they  were  accustomed  to  worship  their  gods,  supposing 
themselves  there  to  be  nearer  to  them,  and  more  likely  to  be  heard  by  them. 
This  practice  was  imitated  by  the  Hebrews,  though  denounced  in  their  laws. 
They  sometimes  worshiped  on  their  house-tops  as  a  substitute  for  hills  or 
mountains.     See  Jer.  xix,  13  ;  xxxii,  29 ;  Zeph.  i,  5. 

2.  The  "images"  (chammanim)  here  spoken  of  are  called  "sun  images" 
in  the  margin,  in  several  places  where  the  word  is  used.     They  are  supposed 
to  have  been  identical  with  the  sun-god  Baal.     From  2  Chron.  xxxiv,  4,  it 
would  seem  that   they  were   sometimes   placed  on   top  of  the   altars  of 
Baal,  from  which  it  is  thought  that  they  may  have  resembled  rising  flames. 
In  some  places  where  their  destruction  is  spoken  of  they  are  represented  aa 
being  "cut  down,"  (Ezek.  vi,  4,)  and  in  other  places   they  are  said  to  be 
"  broken."     Ezek.  vi,   6.     Thus  they  may  sometimes  have  been  made  of 
wood,  and  sometimes  of  stone.     Perhaps  they  were  made  of  stone  when 
placed  as  a  fixture  on  the  altar,  and  of  wood  when  put  in  other  positions. 

1 75.— SHEKEL— GERAH. 

XXVII,  25.  All  thy  estimations  shall  be  according  to  the  shekel 
of  the  sanctuary :  twenty  gerahs  shall  be  the  shekel. 

1.  What  the   "shekel   of  the  sanctuary"   was  is  not  definitely  stated. 
There  are  those  who  think  it  was  worth  double  the  value  of  the  ordinary 
shekel.     Others,  again,  suppose  that  "the  shekel  of  the  sanctuary"  was  the 
standard  to  which  all  shekels  must  conform  if  of  full  weight.     See  note  on 
Gen.  xxiii,  16. 

2.  The  gerah  was  the  smallest  weight  known  to  the  Hebrews,  and  the 
smallest  piece  of  money  used  by  them.      It  weighed  between  eleven  and 
twelve  grains,  and  was  in  value  about  three  cents. 


XXVII,  82.    Whatsoever  passeth  under  the  rod. 

The  reference  here  is  to  the  Jewish  mode  of  tithing  sheep.  As  the  sheep 
passed  through  a  narrow  gate,  one  by  one,  the  person  counting  stood  by, 
homing  in  his  hand  a  rod  colored  with  ochre.  Every  tenth  one  he  touched 
with  his  rod,  thus  putting  a  mark  upon  it.  Jeremiah  alludes  to  this  method 
of  counting  sheep  in  chap,  xxxiii,  13.  So  also  does  Kzekiel,  in  chap,  xx,  37. 





II,  2.  Every  man  of  the  children  of  Israel  shall  pitch  by  his 
own  standard,  with  the  ensign  of  their  father's  house. 

The  deyel,  "  standard,"  was  the  large  field  sign  which  belonged  to  each  divis 
ion  of  three  tribes,  and  was  also  the  banner  of  the  tribe  at  the  head  of  that 
division.  The  oth,  "ensign,"  was  the  small  flag  or  banner  which  was  carried 

at  the  head  of  each  tribe  and  of  each 
subdivision  of  a  tribe.  The  Bible 
gives  us  no  intimation  of  the  form  of 
these  different  signals.  They  proba 
bly  bore  some  general  resemblance  to 
the  Egyptian  military  signals,  repre 
sentations  of  which  are  to  be  found 
on  the  monuments.  These  were  not 
at  all  like  our  modern  flags  or  ban 
ners.  They  were  made  of  wood  or 
metal,  and  ornamented  with  various 
devices,  and  shaped  in  the  form  of 
some  sacred  emblem.  Some  illustra 
tion  of  the  mode  of  using  these  sig 
nals  may  perhaps  be  obtained  from 
the  account  which  Pitts  gives  of  the 


signals  which  are  carried  on  the  top  of  high  poles  in  an  Arabian  caravan, 
not  only  by  day,  but  also  at  night,  at  which  time  they  are  illuminated. 
"  They  are  somewhat  like  iron  stoves,  into  which  they  put  short  dry  wood, 
which  some  of  the  camels  are  loaded  with;  it  is  carried  in  great  sacks, 
whicli  have  a  hole  near  the  bottom,  where  the  servants  take  it  out  as  they 
see  the  fires  need  a  recruit.  Every  cottor  [i.  e,  company]  hath  one  of  these 
poles  belonging  to  it,  some  of  which  have  ten,  some  twelve,  of  these  lights 
on  their  tops,  more  or  less.  They  are  likewise  of  different  figures  as  well 
as  numbers;  one,  perhaps,  oval  way.  like  a  gate;  another  triangular,  or  like 
an  N  or  an  M,  etc. ;  so  that  every  one  knows  by  them  his  respective  cottor." 
— Religion  and  Manners  of  the  Mahometans,  p.  43. 

17§.— THE  LEVITES. 

Ill,  6.     Bring  the   tribe  of  Levi  near,   and    present  them   before 
Aaron   the    priest,   that  they  may   minister  unto   him. 

The  family  of  Aaron  were  set  apart  especially  to  the  duties  of  the  priest. 
hood.     The  rest  of  the  tribe  of  Levi  were  consecrated  to  special  services  in 


connection  with  the  worship  of  Jehovah.  Each  of  the  three  families  had 
its  particular  duties  assigned.  The  Kohathites  had  charge  of  the  sacred 
utensils  of  the  Tabernacle.  They  saw  that  they  were  properly  removed 
when  on  the  march,  and  that  they  were  put  into  their  appropriate  places 
wlieu  the  encampment  was  again  fixed.  Num.  iv,  4-15.  The  Gershonites 
took  care  of  the  hangings  and  curtains  of  the  Tabernacle.  Num.  iv,  21—28. 
The  Merarites  were  required  to  look  after  the  boards,  sockets,  pillars,  pins, 
and  cords  of  the  Tabernacle.  Num.  iv,  29-33.  Moses  also  gave  the  Levites 
judicial  authority,  (Deut.  xvii,  8-12,)  and  made  them  keepers  of  the  book  of 
the  law.  Deut.  xxxi,  9,  25,  26.  After  the  temple  was  built  they  acted  as 
porters,  musicians,  and  assistants  to  the  priests. 

The  first  Levites  who  were  appointed  began  their  service  at  thirty  years 
of  age,  (Num.  iv,  23,  30,  35 ;)  but  it  was  ordered  that  after  that  the  age 
for  commencing  should  be  twenty-five  years.  Num.  viii,  24.  In  David's  time 
they  began  serving  at  twenty.  1  Chron.  xxiii,  24-27.  They  were  released 
from  all  obligation  to  serve  when  they  became  fifty  years  old.  Num.  viii,  25. 

Forty-eight  cities  were  set  apart  for  their  residence  in  the  Land  of  Prom 
ise.  Six  of  these  were  also  cities  of  refuge,  and  thirteen  of  them  they  shared 
with  the  priests.  Num.  xxxv,  1-8;  Josh,  xxi,  13-19;  1  Chron.  vi,  54-60. 


XI,  20.     Until  it  come  out  at  your  nostrils. 

Roberts  says,  that  this  figure  of  speech  is  used  in  India  to  convey  the  idea 
of  being  filled  to  satiety.  A  host  says  to  his  guests,  "Now,  friends,  eat 
mookamattam :  to  the  nose.  That  is,  Eat  until  you  are  filled  to  the  nose. 
Of  a  glutton  it  is  said,  "That  fellow  always  fills  up  to  the  nose." 


XVII,  2.  Take  of  every  one  of  them  a  rod,  according  to  the 
house  of  their  fathers. 

In  the  pictures  on  the  walls  of  the  ancient 
P]<ryptian  tombs  the  chief  person  is  always  rep 
resented  with  a  long  staff— the  mark  of  his  rank 
as  a  land  owner,  and  as  the  head  of  his  family. 
In  the  Abbott  Collection  there  are  fragments  of 
two  of  these  rods  with  hieroglyphic  inscriptions. 

In  the  engraving  this  staff  is  seen  in  the  left 
liSiid.  The  stick  in  the  right  hand  is  supposed 
to  be  a  scepter.  Sharpe  represents  this  man  as 
"an  Egyptian  of  the  reign  of  Amunmai  Thori 
II.,  who  lived  at  least  two  centuries  before  the 
time  of  Moses.»-A-&fe  Texts,  etc.,  p.  46. 

100  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Numbers. 


XIX,  2.     Speak  unto  the   children  of  Israel,  that  they  bring  thee 
a   red    heifer   without   spot,    wherein   is  no   blemish,    and  upon 
which  never  came  yoke. 

The  sacrifice  of  the  red  heifer  was  a  peculiar  ceremony  designed  to 
purify  from  the  ceremonial  defilement  resulting  from  contact  with  a  corpse. 
Num.  xix,  11-16.  A  heifer  perfectly  red,  and  which  had  never  borne  the 
yoke,  was  selected  by  the  people,  and  brought  to  Eleazar  the  priest.  She 
was  then  taken  outside  the  camp  and  slaughtered.  Eleazar  sprinkled  her 
blood  seven  times  before  the  Tabernacle,  after  which  the  entire  carcass  was 
burnt,  the  priest  throwing  into  the  fire  cedar,  and  hyssop,  and  scarlet.  The 
ashes  were  then  carefully  collected  and  laid  up  in  a  suitable  place  for  future 
use.  Num.  xix,  1—10.  When  purification  from  the  defilement  of  a  corpse 
became  necessary,  the  ashes  were  made  into  a  lye  by  means  of  running 
water,  and  the  water  was  sprinkled  from  a  bunch  of  hyssop  on  the  person, 
the  tent,  the  bed,  or  the  utensils  which  had  been  defiled.  Num.  xix,  17-19 

This  sacrifice  differed  from  all  others  in  several  important  particulars.  The 
victim  was  not  slaughtered  in  the  court,  nor  was  it  burnt  on  the  altar;  it 
was  killed  and  burnt  outside  the  camp.  Neither  the  high  priest  nor  any 
ordinary  priest  officiated,  but  the  presumptive  successor  of  the  high  priest. 
The  animal  chosen  was  not  a  bullock,  as  in  other  sacrifices,  but  a  heifer,  and 
the  precise  color  was  specified.  The  ashes  were  carefully  preserved. 

Much  has  been  written  on  these  subjects,  and  various  attempts  have  been 
made  to  give  full  explanations  of  all  the  miuutia3  of  the  ceremonies,  but 
some  things  connected  witli  them  are  not  easily  explained.  The  Jews  are 
represented  as  sayir.g,  that  Solomon  himself,  with  all  his  wisdom,  did  not 
fully  understand  them. 

The  general  design,  doubtless,  was  1o  keep  in  rememberance  the  awful  fact 
of  sin,  which  brought  death  into  the  world,  and  the  necessity  of  purification 
from  its  pollution.  Paul  makes  reference  to  this  in  Heb.  ix,  13,  14.  As 
Kurtz  remarks,  "  This  idea  of  an  antidote  against  the  defilement  of  death 
was  the  regulating  principle  of  the  whole  institution,  determining  not  only 
the  choice  of  the  sacrificial  animal,  but  what  should  be  added  to  it,  and  all 
that  should  be  done  with  it."— Sacrificial  Worship  of  the  Old  Testament, 
p.  426. 


XX,  28.     Moses  stripped   Aaron  of  his   garments,  and   put  them 
upon   Eleazar  his  son. 

This  was  the  formal  initiation  of  Eleazar  into  the  sacred  office.  We  find, 
also,  that  Elijah  threw  his  mau'le  over  Elisha,  when,  in  obedience  to  divine 

Numbers.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CLSTOMS.  101 

command,  lie  called  him  to  the  prophet's  work.  1  Kings  xix,  19.  This 
mantle  Elisha  took  up  as  soon  as  Elijah  was  translated.  2  Kings  ii,  13,  14. 
In  a  similar  way  Eliakim  was  appointed  the  successor  of  ishebna.  Isa. 
xxii,  15,  20,  21. 

Among  the  Persians  the  prophet's  mantle  is  a  symbol  of  spiritual  power, 
and  is  transferred  from  a  prophet  to  his  successor.  Among  the  Hindoos 
when  a  Brahmin  is  inducted  into  the  sacred  office  he  is  always  covered  with 
a  yellow  mantle. 

183.— CHEMOSH. 

XXI,  29.    Woe   to    thee,    Moab  I    thou    art    undone,   O    people  of 

Chemosh  was  the  national  god  of  the  Moabites,  and  hence  they  are  called 
in  this  text,  and  in  Jer.  xlviii,  46,  ':the  people  of  Chemosh."  He  was 
also  worshiped  by  the  Ammonites.  Judges  xi,  24.  Solomon  built  high 
places  for  Chemosh  and  Molech  in  the  neighborhood  of  Jerusalem. 
1  Kings  xi.  7.  Nothing  definite  is  known  concerning  this  god,  or  the  mode 
of  his  worship.  There  is  an  old  Jewish  tradition  that  he  was  worshiped 
under  the  form  of  a  black  stone  ;  and  another  that  his  worshipers  went  bare 
headed,  and  refused  to  wear  garments  that  were  made  by  use  of  a  needle. 
Chemosh  is  also  mentioned  in  Jer.  xlviii,  7,  13.  His  name  is  found  on  the 
celebrated  Moabite  Stone. 

184.— BAAL. 

XXII,  41.    It  came  to  pass  on  the  morrow,    that   Balak   took   Ba 
laam,  and  brought  him   up  into  the  high  places  of  Baal. 

The  word  Baal  signifies  lord,  not  so  much  in  the  sen^e  of  ruler,  as 
possessor,  or  owner.  The  name  was  given  to  the  principal  male  deity 
of  the  Phenicians,  corresponding  to  Bel  or  Belus  of  the  Babylonians.  See 
note  on  Isa.  xlvi,  1.  The  name  of  the  female  deity  associated  with  Baal  was 
Astarte.  The  worship  of  Baal  was  of  great  antiquity,  and  was  accompanied 
with  splendid  ceremonies.  Priests  and  prophets  were  consecrated  to  his 
service.  2  Kings  x,  1,9.  Incense  (Jer.  vii.  9)  and  prayers  (1  Kings  xviii,  26) 
were  offered.  The  worshipers  prostrated  themselves  before  the  idol  arid 
kissed  it,  (1  Kings  xix,  18.)  perhaps  at  the  same  time  kissing  the  hand 
toward  the  sun.  See  note  on  Deut.  iv,  19.  They  danced  and  shouted,  and 
cut  themselves  with  knives.  1  Kings  xviii,  26-28.  The  offerings  were  some 
times  vegetable  (Hosea  ii,  8)  and  sometimes  animal.  1  Kings  xviii,  23. 
Human  sacrifices  were  also  offered.  Jer.  xix.  5. 

Efforts  have  been  made  to  identify  Baal  with  one  of  the  gods  of  classical* 
mythology,  but  the  results  are  by  no  means  satisfactory.     The  Greek  Zeus, 
the  Roman 'Jupiter,  Cronos  or  Saturn.  Ares  or  Mars,  and  Hercules,  have  each 
been  supposed  by  different  Writers  to  be  the  same  as  Baal.     In  reference  to 

102  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Numbers. 

the  astrological  nature  of  the  worship,  the  most  prevalent  opinion  is,  that 
Baal  represented  the  sun,  while  Astarte,  his  companion,  represented  the 
moon;  but  Gesenius  and  others  assert  that  the  two  terms  respectively 
stood  for  Jupiter  and  Venus.  Baal  and  Gad  are  considered  by  some  to  be 
identical.  See  note  on  Isa.  Ixv,  11. 
The  ordinary  symbol  of  Baal  was  a  bull. 

185.— BAAL-PEOR. 

XXV,  3.    Israel  joined  himself  unto  Baal-peor. 

The  worship  of  this  special  form  of  Baal  is  generally  supposed  to  have 
been  accompanied  with  obscene  rites.  This  seems  to  be  indicated  in  this 
chapter.  Some  consider  Baal-peor  to  be  the  same  as  Chernosh. 


II,  28.    The   Avim  which   dwelt  in    Hazerim. 

Hazerim  is  not  the  name  of  a  place,  as  it  appears  to  be  in  the  text.  The 
same  word  occurs  in  Gen.  xxv,  16,  where  it  is  translated  "  towns,"  and  in 
Psa.  x,  8,  and  Isa.  xlii,  11,  where  it  is  translated  "villages."  In  the  text  it  is 
untranslated.  The  Jtazerim  are  supposed  to  have  been  the  camping-grounds 
of  wandering  tribes,  with  a  stone  wall  around  them  for  protection.  Mr. 
Palmer,  in  endeavoring  to  trace  the  route  of  the  Israelites  across  the  desert, 
found  remains  of  some  camping-grounds,  evidently  of  ancient  or.gin.  The 
Maghrabim,  or  African  Arabs,  have  their  encampments  on  this  principle  at 
the  present  day.  ""When  a  camping-ground  has  been  selected,  cattle,  as  the 
most  precious  possession  of  the  tribe,  are  collected  together  in  one  place, 
and  the  huts  or  tents  are  pitched  in  a  circle  round  them ;  the  whole  is  then 
fenced  in  with  a  low  wall  of  stones,  in  which  are  inserted  thick  bundles 
of  thorny  acacia,  the  tangled  branches  and  long  needle-like  spikes  forming  a 
perfectly  impenetrable  hedge  around  the  encampment.  These  are  called 
Dowdrs,  and  there  can  be  but  little  doubt  that  they  are  the  same  with  the 
Ilazaroth,  or  'field  enclosures,'  used  by  the  pastoral  tribes  mentioned  in  the 
Bible."— Desert  of  the  Exodus,  p.  321. 


*  III,  5.    All   these    cities    were    fenced    with    high     walls,    gates, 
and  bars  ;    beside  un  walled  towns  a  great   many. 

These  cities  of  Bashan,  which  are  also  referred  to  in  1  Kings  iv,  13,  seem 
to  have  astonished  their  conquerors.  "  Why  were  these  cities,  with  their 

Deuteronomy.]      BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  103 

walls  and  gates,  something  so  remarkable  to  the  Israelites?  Because  they 
had  come  from  the  Red  Sea  through  the  wilderness,  until  near  the  Mandhur, 
[that  is,  the  Hierornax,]  almost  exclusive!)'  through  a  limestone  region,  in 
which,  until  this  da}',  the  troglodyte-life  predominates ;  the  soft  limestone 
being  adapted  to  the  excavation  of  artificial  caverns.  That,  in  a  land  of 
hard  basalt,  is  not  to  be  thought  of.  There,  in  order  to  obtain  the  security 
which  the  caverns  afford,  it  is  necessary  to  build  cities,  walled  around  and 
provided  with  strong  gates.  To  the  astonishment  of  European  travelers, 
there  remain  to-day  large  numbers  of  the  walled  cities  of  Bashan,  with  their 
black  basalt  houses,  gates,  doors,  and  bolts."— RAUMEII:  Pala&tina,  pp. 
•78,  79. 

Recent  travelers  tell  marvelous  stories  of  these  unoccupied  stone  cities, 
which  are  still  in  excellent  preservation.  Porter  believes  that  some  of  them 
are  the  veritable  cities  taken  by  the  Hebrews  at  the  time  referred  to  in  the 
text.  He  says:  "Time  produces  little  effect  on  such  buildings  as  these. 
The  heavy  stone  slabs  of  the  roofs  resting  on  the  massive  walls  make  the 
structure  as  firm  as  if  built  of  solid  masonry;  and  the  black  basalt  used  is 
almost  as  hard  as  iron.  There  can  scarcely  be  a  doubt,  therefore,  that  these 
are  the  very  cities  erected  and  inhabited  by  the  Rephaim,  the  aboriginal 
occupants  of  Bashan." — Giant  Cities  of  Bashan,  p.  84. 

Macgregor  also  speaks  of  the  immense  slabs  of  stone  which  were  used  in 
the  construction  of  these  black  basalt  houses.  He  saw  double  doors  made 
of  slabs  seven  feet  high  and  six  inches  thick,  and  with  pivots  abou-t  four 
inches  long  and  three  in  diameter,  turning  in  stone  sockets;  and  stone 
window  shutters,  in  size  four  feet  by  three.  The  room  in  which  he  slept 
was  fourteen  feet  long,  nine  wide,  and  eleven  high.  Stone  rafters  supported 
a  stone  roof.  The  wails  were  from  four  to  six  feet  thick.  Many  of  the 
houses  were  two  stones  high,  and  a  few  three  stones.  See  The  Rol  Ray  on 
the  Jordan,  pp.  175—179. 

The  high  antiquity  claimed  for  these  houses  has  been  disputed,  though  all 
agree  that  they  are  of  great  age;  but,  whether  they  are  the  same  buildings 
which  the  Hebrew  warriors  saw.  or  are  of  more  recent  date,  they  are 
undoubtedly  similar  in  construction  and  in  general  appearance  to  the  dwell 
ings  which  made  up  the  cit'es  spoken  of  in  the  text. 

!§§.-— BEDSTEADS. 

Ill,  11.    Behold,   his  bedstead  was  a  bedstead    of  iron. 

Bedsteads  are  less  common  in  the  East  than  with  us,  the  bed  being  usually 
made  on  the  divan,  or  platform  around  the  room.  Frames,  however,  are 
sometimes  used.  In  Palestine,  Syria,  and  Persia,  thpse  are  made  of  boards. 
In  Egypt  they  are  made  of  palm-sticks,  and  probably  were  so  made  in  Pales 
tine  iti  the  time  of  King  Og,  when  the  palm  was  more  plentiful  than  now. 


BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.      [Deuteronomy. 

The  palm-sticks,  however,  would 
make  rather  a  rickety  bedstead 
for  a  heavy  man,  and  hence  the 
giant-king  needed  something  more 
substantial.  Bedsteads  of  metal 
seem  to  have  been  in  more  common 
use  in  the  East  formerly  than  at 
present,  though  their  use  in  ancient 
times  appears  to  have  been  limited 
mainly  to  princes  and  persons  of 
distinction.  Bedsteads  of  gold,  and 
also  of  silver,  are  spoken  of  by 
heathen  writers.  Some  of  these 
were  used  in  temples,  and  some 
in  palaces.  Mention  is  likewise 
made  of  such  in  Esther  i,  6,  where 
see  the  note.  Bedsteads  of  brass 
and  of  iron  are  also  mentioned  by 
ancient  writers. 


1§9.— ZABAISM. 

IV,  19.  Lest  thou  lift  up  thine  eyes  unto  heaven,  and  when 
thou  seest  the  sun,  and  the  moon,  and  the  stars,  even  all  the 
host  of  heaven,  shouldest  be  driven  to  worship  them,  and 
serve  them. 

The  worship  of  the  heavenly  bodies  is  the  most  ancient  and  widely  spread 
form  of  idolatry,  and  frequent  allusions  are  made  to  it  in  the  Scriptures.  Its 
chief  promoters  were  called  Sabians.  and  sometimes  Zabians;  and  the  idol 
atry  itself  is  known  as  Sabaism  or  Zabaism;  probably  from  the  Hebrew 
tsaba,  a  host.  Thus  in  the  name  of  the  system  the  objects  of  worship  are 
indicated:  the  "hosts  of  heaven." 

It  is  supposed  that  many  of  the  precepts  in  the  Mosaic  law  were  directed 
against  Zabaism  in  its  various  corrupt  forms.  The  text  is  an  illustration. 
Besides  the  direct  reference  to  this  superstition  in  this  and  in  other  passages, 
occasional  allusion  to  it  may  be  found  elsewhere.  The  many  texts  in  which 
the  expression  "  the  Lord  of  hosts  "  occurs,  seem  to  be  directly  leveled  at 
Zabaism:  teaching  that  there  is  a  being  superior  to  the  hosts  the  Zabians 
worshiped,  and  to  all  hosts,  whether  of  heaven  or  earth.  Thus  we  read  in 
Genesis  ii,  1:  "Thus  the  heavens  and  the  earth  were  finished,  and  all  the 
hosts  of  them;  "  and  in  Job  ix,  7-9:  "Which  commandeth  the  sun,  and  it 
riseth  not;  and  sealeth  up  the  stars;  which  alone  spreadeth  out  the  heavens, 
and  treadeth  upon  the  waves  of  the  sea;  which  maketh  Arcturus,  Orion,  and 
Pleiades,  and  the  chambers  of  the  south.1'  In  these  and  similar  passages  God 

Deuteronomy.]      BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  105 

is  declared  to  be  the  Creator  of  the  heavenly  bodies,  and  therefore  far  above 
them.  There  is  also  an  allusion  to  Zabaism  in  Job  xxxi,  26-28:  "If  I  be 
held  the  sun  when  it  sliined,  or  the  moon  walking  in  brightness;  and  my 
heart  hath  been  secretly  enticed,  or  my  mouth  hath  kissed  my  hand;  this  also 
were  an  iniquity  to  be  punished  by  the  judge:  for  I  should  have  denied  the 
God  that  is  above."  Kissing  the  hand  was  a  mark  of  lespect  to  superiors,  and 
was  also  an  ancient  idolatrous  rite.  1  Kings  xix,  18,  may  also  refer  to  this 
custom,  as  well  as  to  that  of  actually  kissing  the  idol.  An  old  writer,  speak 
ing  of  these  two  texts,  says:  "These  places  refer  to  the  Gentiles'  mode  of 
adoring  the  sun  by  lifting  the  right  hand  to  their  mouth  ;  of  which  there  is 
frequent  mention  among  Pagan  writers." — GALE'S  Court  of  the  Gentiles, 
vol.  I,  book  ii,  chap.  8. — Mollerus  quaintly  suggests  that  as  "  men  could  not 
attain  to  kiss  the  sun  and  moon  with  their  mouth,  they  extended  their  hand 
to  those  celestial  bodies,  and  thence  moving  it  back  to  their  mouth,  they 
kissed  it  in  token  of  homage  and  worship." 

According  to  Maimonides  the  Zabians  made  images  of  the  sun  in  gold 
and  of  the  moon  in  silver.  They  built  chapels  and  placed  these  images  in 
them,  believing  that  the  power  of  the  stars  flowed  into  them.  They  offered 
to  the  sun  at  certain  times  "  seven  bats,  seven  mice,  and  seven  reptiles,  to 
gether  with  certain  other  matters." 

Zabaism  is  likewise  referred  to  in  Deut.  xvii,  3 ;  2  Kings  xvii,  16 ;  xxi,  3 ; 
xxiii,  5 ;  Jer.  viii,  2. 


VI,  9.  Thou  shalt  write  them  upon  the  posts  of  thy  house, 
arid  on  thy  gates. 

It  was  a  common  custom  among  the  ancient  Egyptians  to  write  inscrip 
tions  on  the  doors  of  their  houses.  Besides  the  names  of  the  dwellers, 
lucky  sentences  were  written.  The  Mohammedans  write  passages  from  the 
Koran  on  their  doors.  "  0  God !  "  is  written  on  some ;  "  the  Excellent  Creator 
is  the  Everlasting,"  is  also  seen.  The  modern  Jews  have  in  some  places  an 
arrangement  equivalent  to  this.  The  passages  in  Deut.  vi,  4-9,  and  xi,  13-21, 
are  written  on  one  side  of  a  piece  of  parchment  which  is  prepared  especially 
for  the  purpose,  while  on  the  other  side  is  written  "^VO^  tJie  Almighty.  The 
parchment  is  then  rolled  up,  so  that  the  sacred  name  shall  be  on  the  outside, 
and  is  put  into  a  reed  or  metallic  cylinder,  which  has  in  it  a  hole  just  largo 
enough  to  show  the  ^T-p  upon  the  parchment.  This  hole  is  covered  by  a 
piece  of  glass.  Such  a  cylinder,  with  its  parchment  roll,  is  known  by  the  name 
of  Nezeuza,  and  is  fastened  to  the  right-hand  door-post  of  every  door  in  the 
house,  so  that  it  is  in  full  sight,  and  may  be  touched  or  kissed  as  the  dwellers 
in  the  house  go  in  and  out.  The  Jews  from  a  very  early  period  believed  that 
the  Mezeuza  guarded  the  house  against  the  entrance  of  disf  ases  and  evil  spirits. 

106  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.      [Deuteronomy. 


XI,  10.  Not  as  the  land  of  Egypt,  from  whence  ye  came  out, 
where  thou  sowedst  thy  seed,  and  wateredst  it  with  thy  foot. 

Two  interpretations  are  given  of  this  passage,  either  of  which  can  find 
illustration  in  Oriental  customs,  and  in  the  fact  that  from  the  absence  of  rain 
in  Egypt,  and  the  great  breadth  of  plain  country  unbroken  by  hills,  it  has 
ever  been  necessary  to  water  the  land  by  artificial  means.  1.  One  ancient 
mode  of  raising  water  from  the  Nile,  or  from  the  canals  which  were  cut; 
through  Egypt,  was  by  means  of  a  wheel  which  was  worked  by  the  feet. 
Dr.  Robinson  saw  in  Palestine  several  of  these  wheels  which  were  used  to 
draw  water  from  wells.  In  describing  one  he  says :  "  On  the  platform  was 
fixed  a  small  reel  for  the  rope,  which  a  man,  seated  on  a  level  with  the  axis, 
wound  up,  by  pulling  the  upper  part  of  the  reel  toward  him  with  his  hands, 
while  he  at  the  same  time  pushed  the  lower  part  from  him  with  the  feet." — 
Bibl.  Res.  in  Palestine,  vol.  ii,  p.  22.  2.  For  crops  which  required  to  be  fre 
quently  watered  the  fields  were  divided  into  square  beds,  surrounded  by 
raised  borders  of  earth,  to  keep  in  the  water,  which  was  introduced  by  chan 
nels  or  poured  in  from  buckets.  The  water  could  easily  be  turned  from  one 
square  to  another  by  making  an  opening  in  the  border,  the  soft  soil  readily 
yielding  to  the  pressure  of  the  foot.  This  mode  is  also  practiced  in  India. 

Allusion  to  one  or  the  other  of  these  customs  is  made  in  2  Kings  xix,  24. 


XII,  28,  24.  Only  be  sure  that  thou  eat  not  the  blood :  for  the 
blood  is  the  life ;  and  thou.  mayest  not  eat  the  life  with  the 
flesh.  Thou  shalt  not  eat  it ;  thou  shalt  pour  it  upon  the  earth 
as  water.  See  also  Gen.  ix,  4;  Lev.  vii,  '26,  27 ;  xvii,  10-14. 

The  discussion  which  has  risen  on  the  various  reasons  for  this  prohibition 
of  blood  for  food,  so  far  as  it  concerns  the  physical  consequences  of  such 
diet,  or  the  typical  character  of  sacrificial  blood,  or  the  relation  of  the  blood 
to  the  life,  can  have  no  place  here.  There  are,  however,  reasons  for  the  law 
which  may  have  been  drawn  from  ancient  idolatrous  and  cruel  customs  to 
which  we  may  with  propriety  refer.  R.  Moses  Bar  Nachman,  an  old  Jewish 
writer,  says  that  the  Zabiaus  "gathered  together  blood  for  the  devils,  their 
idol  gods,  and  then  came  themselves  and  ate  of  that  blood  with  them  as 
being  the  devil's  guests,  and  invited  to  eat  at  the  table  of  devils,  and  so 
were  joined  in  federal  society  with  them;  and  by  this  kind  of  communion 
with  devils  they  were  able  to  prophesy  and  foretell  things  to  come."-— TOWN- 
LEY'S  Maimonides,  p,  76. 

The  sacred  books  of  the  Hindoos  exhibit  traces  of  the  sume  infernal  mode 
of  worship.  They  give  directions  concerning  va'ious  oblations  of  blood,  the 
different  animals  from  which  it  may  be  d-uwn,  and  the  dilll-rout  iu 

Deuteronomy.]      BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  107 

which  it  may  be  offered,  positively  forbidding,  however,  to  pour  it  on  the 
ground.  If  a  similar  prohibition  existed  among  the  Zabians,  verse  24  may  no 
a  reference  to  it,  commanding  the  Hebrews  to  do  what  the  Zabians  were  for 
bidden.  Hindoo  devotees  drink  the  reeking  blood  from  newly  killed  buffa 
loes  and  fowls. 

"  Drink  offerings  of  blood  "  are  spoken  of  in  Psa.  xvi,  4;  and  in  Zech.  ix,  7 
there  is  evident  allusion  to  the  idolatrous  use  of  blood. 

In  addition  to  this,  the  old  Jewish  rabbins  say  that  this  prohibition  against 
blood  was  made  on  account  of  an  ancient  custom  of  eating  raw  flesh. 
especially  the  flesh  of  living  animals  cut  or  torn  from  them,  and  devoured 
while  reeking  with  the  warm  blood.  Bruce  tells  of  a  similar  custom  among 
the  modern  Abyssinians,  and  his  statement,  though  at  first  received  with 
ridicule,  has  been  confirmed  by  other  travelers.  The  hungry  Israelites,  after 
defeating  the  Philistines  between  Michmash  arid  Aijalou,  seem  from  the  nar 
rative  in  1  Sam.,  xiv,  32-34,  to  have  indulged  in  a  similar  horrid  practice. 

193.— ABIB. 

XVI,  1.    The   month  of  Abib. 

Abib  means  a  green  ear.  This  denotes  the  condition  of  the  barley  in 
Palestine  and  Egypt  during  this  month.  It  was  the  first  month  of  the  Jew 
ish  ecclesiastical  year,  and  was  in  later  tin>3S  called  Xisan.  See  Neh.  ii,  1  ; 
Esther  iii,  7.  It  corresponded  nearly  to  our  month  of  April. 

194.— IDOL  GROVES. 

XVI,  21.  Thou  shalt  not  plant  thee  a  grove  of  any  trees  near 
unto  the  altar  of  the  Lord  thy  God,  which  thou  shalt  make 

Idol  temples  and  altars  were  surrounded  by  thick  groves  and  trees,  which 
became  the  resort  of  the  abandoned  of  both  sexes,  and  in  which,  under  plea 
of  idolatrous  worship,  excesses  of  the  vilest  kind  were  perpetrated.  For 
this  reason  God  forbade  the  planting  of  trees  near  his  altars,  lest  his  people 
should  become,  or  seem  to  be,  like  the  heathen.  See  also  Isa.  Ivii,  5  ;  Ixv,  3 ; 
Ixvi,  17;  Jer.  ii,  20;  iii,  6;  Bzek.  vi,  13;  xx,  28;  Hos.  iv,  13.  Some  sup 
pose  the  word  "grove  "  here  to  mean  a  high  wooden  pillar,  planted  in  the 
ground.  See  note  on  Judges  iii,  7. 


XYIII,  10,  11.  ...  Thatuseth  divination,  or  an  observer  of  times, 
or  an  enchanter,  or  a  witch,  or  a  charmer,  or  a  eonsulter 
with  familiar  spirits,  or  a  wizard,  or  a  necromancer. 



;Thc  word  divination  (kosem  hesarnim,  "divining  divinations")  may  here 
je  takeu  as  a  generic  term,  of  which  the  seven  terms  following  represent 
;he  specias.  This  might  b3  more  clearly  shown  by  a  slight  change  in  tli3 

108  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.      [Deuteronomy. 

punctuation,  and  an  omission  of  the  word  or,  which  was  supplied  by  the 
translators;  e.  g.,  "that  useth  divination:  an  observer  of  times,  or  an 
enchanter,"  etc. 

By  divination,  as  the  term  is  used  in  the  text,  we  understand  an  attempt 
to  penetrate  the  mysteries  of  the  future  by  using  magical  arts,  or  super 
stitious  incantations,  or  by  the  arbitrary  interpretation  of  natural  signs. 
Its  practice  was  very  prevalent  in  the  time  of  Moses  among  all  idolatrous 
nations,  as  indeed  it  is  to  this  day.  We  have  occasional  illustrations  of  it  in 
Christian  lands.  It  became  necessary,  therefore,  to  warn  the  Hebrews 
against  the  fascinating  influence  of  this  ungodly  habit.  God  provided  cer 
tain  lawful  means  by  which  his  will  was  revealed,  such  as  by  urim  and 
thummim,  by  dreams,  by  prophecies,  and  by  several  other  modes,  so  that 
there  was  no  excuse  for  resorting  to  the  practices  of  the  heathen.  These 
are  spoken  of  under  the  following  heads. 

1.  An  observer  of  times,   "meonen:"  one  that  distinguishes  lucky  from 
unlucky  days,  recommending  certain  days  for  the  commencement  of  enter 
prises,  and  forbidding  other  days  ;  deciding  also  on  the  good  or  bad  luck  of 
certain  months,  and  even  of  years.     This  sort  of  diviners  often  made  their 
predictions  b}*-  noticing  the  clouds.     Some  would  refer  this  to  divination  by 
means  of  words,  of  which   we  have  illustration  in  more  modern  times  in 
bibliomancy,  that  is,  opening  a  book  at  random  and  taking,  for  the  will  of  God, 
the  first  words  seen.     Still  others  suppose  that  meonen  has  reference  to  fas 
cination  by  means  of  "  the  evil  eye." 

2.  An  enchanter,  "  menachesh."     This  may  refer  to  divination  by  the  cup, 
as  already  explained  in  the  note  on  Gen.  xliv,  5,  in  which  passage  the  word 
nachesh  is  used.     The  Septuagint  translators  supposed  it  to  mean  divination 
by  watching  the  flight  of  birds ;  while  some  later  interpreters  refer  it  to  the 
divination  by  means  of  serpents,  which  were  charmed  by  music. 

?>.  A  witch,  "  mekasfisheph."  This  word  is  used  in  the  plural  in  Exod. 
vii,  11,  to  denote  the  "  magicians  "  of  Pharaoh,  who  were  well  versed  in  the 
arts  of  wonder-working.  In  Exod.  xxii,  18  the  word  is  used  in  the  feminine, 
and  is  translated  witch,  as  in  the  text.  Maimonides  informs  us  that  the 
greater  number  of  works  of  divination  were  practiced  by  women. 

4.  A  charmer,  "c//o&er:"  (from  the  root  clialar,  to  bind.)    This  was  one 
who  used  "  a  species  of  magic  which  was  practiced  by  binding  magic  knots.'1— 
Geseniu-s.     Some  think  it  may  have  been  one  who  practiced  a  kind   of  divi 
nation  which  drew   or  bound  together  noxious  creatures  for  purposes  of 
sorcery ;  others,  that  it  was  one  who  used  a  magic  ring  for  divination. 

5.  A  cousulter  with  familar  spirits,  " shoel  ob"     This  may  have  reference 
to  a  species  of  divination  in  which  ventriloquism   was  used.     The  primary 
meaning  of  the  word  ob  is  a  leathern  bottle,  which  has  led  some  authorities 
to  think  that  this  divination  was  one  which  called  up  departed  spirits,  and 

Deuteronomy.]      BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS. 


that  the  use  of  the  word  ob  "  probably  arose  from  regarding  the  conjuror, 
while  possessed  by  the  demon,  as  a  bottle,  that  is,  vessel,  case,  in  which  the 
demon  was  contained." — Gesenius.  Or,  the  word  may  have  been  used 
because  these  necromancers  inflated  themselves  in  the  act  of  divination,  like 
a  skin  bottle  stretched  to  its  utmost  capacity,  (see  Job  xxxii,  19 ;)  as  if  they 
were  filled  with  inspiration  from  supernatural  powers.  See  Wordsworth  on 
Lev.  xix,  31.  The  woman  of  Eudor  who  was  consulted  by  Saul  when  the 
Philistines  were  about  to  attack  him  belonged  to  this  class.  Saul  asked  her 
to  divine  to  him  by  the  ob:  ("the  familiar  spirit.")  1  Sam.  xxviii,  7,  8. 

6.  A  vvizard,  "yiddeoni:"  (the  knowing  one.)    This  may  have  indicated  any 
one  who  was  unusually  expert  in  the  various  magical  tricks  of  divination. 

7.  A  necromancer,  "  doresh  el  hammdhim : "  (one  who  seeks  unto  the  dead.) 
The  necromancers  had  various  modes  of  divination  by  the  dead.     They  some 
times  made  use  of  a  bone  or  a  vein  of  a  dead  body;  and  sometimes  poured 
warm  blood  into  a  corpse,  as  if  to  renew  life.     They  pretended  to  raise  ghosts 
by  various  incantations  and  other  magical  ceremonies. 

196.— AXES. 

XIX,  5.     His  hand  f'eteheth  a  stroke  with  the  axe  to   cut  down 
the  tree,    and   the   head   slippeth   from   the   helve. 

There  were  doubtless  different  forms  of  axe  in  use  among  the  Hebrews,  as 
different  words  are  used  to  signify  the  instrument.  Garzen,  the  word  used 
here  and  in  Deut.  xx,  19;  1  Kings  vi,  7  ;  and  Tsa.  x,  15,  was  probably  an  axe 
which  was  used  for  felling  trees  and 
for  hewing  large  timber.  Repre- 
sentations  of  ancient  Assyrian  and 
Egyptian  axes  have  come  down  to 
us.  Some  of  these  axes  are  fast 
ened  to  the  handle  by  means  of 
thongs.  There  is  one  kind,  how 
ever,  which  is  not  so  fastened,  but 
which  has  an  opening  in  it  into 
which  the  helve  is  inserted,  as  with 
us.  It  bears  a  close  resemblance 
to  a  modern  axe.  and  from  the  refer 
ence  in  the  text  to  the  head  slip 
ping  off  seems  to  have  been  the 
garzen  here  spoken  of.  Egyptian 
axes  were  made  of  bronze,  and  per 
haps  of  iron  also.  That  some,  at  87. — ANCIENT  AXES. 
least,  of  the  axes  of  the  Hebrews  were  made  of  iron  is  evident  from  2  Kings; 
vi,  5,  6. 

110  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.       [.Deuteronomy. 


XIX,  14.      Thou    shalt    not    remove    thy    neighbor's    landmark, 
which  they  of  old.  time   have   set  in  thine  inheritance. 

In  the  East  the  fields  of  different  owners  are  not  marked  by  fences,  as  with 
us,  but  the  boundaries  are  indicated  by  heaps  of  small  stones,  or  by  a  ridge, 
or  by  posts,  or  by  single  stones  set  upright  about  a  rod  ap;irt.  It  is  easy  for 
a  dishonest  man  to  remove  these  landmarks,  little  by  little  each  year,  and 
thus  gradually  encroach  upon  his  neighbor.  This  practice  is  alluded  to  in 
Job  xxiv,  2,  and  is  forbidden  in  Prov.  xxii,  28  and  xxiii,  10,  as  in  our  text. 
A  curse  was  pronounced  upon  those  who  removed  landmarks.  Dent,  xxvii,  17. 
A  figurative  allusion  is  made  to  this  crime  in  Hosea  v,  10. 

Not  only  the  Jews,  but  other  ancient  nations,  especially  the  Romans,  had 
stringent  laws  against  the  removal  of  landmarks.  In  the  British  Museum 
are  two  or  three  very  curious  Babylonian  monuments  which  are  supposed  to 
have  been  landmarks,  and  to  bo  covered  with  curses  on  those  who  remove 
them.  One  of  them  is  of  marble,  in  shape  of  a  massive  fish.  On  the  head 
is  the  figure  of  a  serpent,  and  various  other  characters ;  and  on  the  sides,  in 
arrow-headed  letters,  are  the  curses. 


XX,  5.      What    man  is  there   that  hath  built  a  new  house  and 
hath  not  dedicated  it. 

We  are  not  informed  as  to  the  ceremonies  accompanying  the  dedication 
of  a  dwelling;  they  were  probably  a  combination  of  social  and  devotional. 
The  title  of  the  thirtieth  Psalm  is,  "A.  Psalm  or  Song  at  the  Dedication  of 
the  House  of  David."  The  completion  of  the  wall  of  Jerusalem  in  the  time 
of  Nehemiah  was  celebrated  by  a  dedication,  at  which  there  was  great 
rejoicing.  Neh.  xii,  27.  The  rabbins  say  that  not  only  was  a  newly  built 
house  to  be  dedicated,  but  a  house  lately  obtained,  whether  by  inheritance, 
purchase,  or  gift.  Houses  that  were  not  suitable  for  habitation,  and  that 
could  not  be  made  so,  were  not  dedicated;  but  houses  such  as  granaries 
and  barns,  that  could  in  case  of  necessity  be  converted  into  dwellings,  were 

The  custom  of  dedicating  dwell'ng-houses  was  common  among  the  ancient 
Egyptians,  and  is  practiced  to  this  day  among  the  Hindoos. 


XXI,  19,    Then  shall  his  father  and  his  mother  lay  hold  on  him, 
and    bring    him  out  unto  ths  elders  of  his  city,   and   unto   the 
gate   of  his  place, 

As  the  vicinity  of  the  gate  was  a  place  of  popular  resort,  (see  note  on 
Gen.  xix,  1,)  it  became  a  convenient  place  for  the  administration  of  justice. 
Here  courts  were  held,  and  disputes  were  settled.  See  Dent,  xvi,  IS; 

Deuteronomy.]      BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  Ill 

xxv,  7;  Josh,  xx,  4;  Ruth  iv,  1;  Job  v.  4;  xxxi,  21;  Psa.  cxxvii,  5;  Prov. 
xxii,  22;  xxxi,  23;  Jer.  xxxviii,  7;  Lam.  v,  14;  Amos  v,  12;  Zech.  viii,  16. 
From  the  fact  that  princes  and  judges  thus  sat  at  the  gate  in  the  discharge 
of  their  official  duties,  the  word  gate  became  a  synonym  for  power  or  author 
ity.  This  is  illustrated  in  Matt,  xvi,  18,  where  the  expression  "gates  of 
hell"  weans  powers  of  hell.  We  find  it  also  in  the  title  given  to  the  govern 
ment  of  the  Turkish  Empire,  "  the  Ottoman  Porte  "  or  "  the  Sublime  Porte;  " 
(portct,  a  gate.)  "The  Gate  of  Judgment"  is  a  term  still  common  among  the 
Arabians  to  express  a  court  of  justice,  and  was  introduced  into  Spain  by 
the  Saracens. 

Modern  Oriental  travelers  speak  of  the  existence  at  this  day  of  the  custom 
mentioned  in  the  text. 


XXII,  5.  The  woman  shall  not  wear  that  which  pertaineth 
unto  a  man,  neither  shall  a  man  put  on  a  woman's  garment: 
for  all  that  do  so  are  abomination  unto  the  Lord  thy  God. 

The  distinction  between  the  dress  of  the  sexes  being  less  than  with  us, 
there  was  the  greater  need  of  this  regulation.  There  is  reason  to  believe 
that  the  law  was  made  not  merely  to  preserve  decency,  but  because  the 
heathen  were  in  the  habit  of  pursuing  a  different  course  as  a  part  of  their 
idolatrous  worship.  Maimonides  says:  "In  the  books  of  the  idolaters  it  is 
commanded  that  when  a  man  presents  himself  before  the  Star  of  Venus,  he 
shall  wear  the  colored  dress  of  a  woman ;  and  wh<  n  a  woman  adores  the 
Star  of  Mars,  she  shall  appear  in  armor."  Pagan  idols  were  frequently 
represented  with  the  features  of  one  sex  and  the  dress  of  the  other,  and 
their  worshipers  endeavored  to  be  like  them.  It  is  not  at  all  unlikely  that 
this  custom  was  as  old  as  the  time  of  Moses,  and  was  a  partial  reason  for 
the  enacting  of  this  law. 


XXII,  8.  When  thou  buildest  a  new  house,  then  thou  shalt 
make  a  battlement  for  thy  roof,  that  thou  bring  not  blood  upon 
thine  house,  if  any  man  fall  from  thenoe. 

The  roofs  of  Eastern  houses  are  flat,  having  a  slight  declivity  from  the 
center.  As  they  are  used  for  a  variety  of  purposes  by  day,  and  often  for 
sleeping  at  night,  (1  Sam.  ix,  26,)  it  becomes  necessary  to  guard  them  by 
means  of  a  wall.  Almost  every  Eastern  house  has  a  parapet,  the  Moslems 
making  theirs  very  high,  to  screen  their  women  from  observation. 

The  houses  of  Christians  are  sometimes  built  without  parapets,  and  serious 
accidents  occur.  Dr.  Shaw  describes  the  battlements  on  the  roofs  of  the 
houses  in  Barbary  as  very  low  on  the  side  next  the  street,  and  also  when 
they  make  partitions  from  the  roofs  of  neighbors.  He  says  of  this  outside 

112  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.       [Deuteronomy. 

wall  that  it  is  "  frequently  so  low  that  one  may  easily  climb  over  it."— Trav 
els,  p.  210.  He  also  states  that  the  inside  parapet,  next  to  the  court  of  tho 
house,  is  always  breast  high.  There  is  sometimes  here  only  a  balustrade  or 
lattice-work.  In  Syria,  however,  the  higher  battlement  is  next  to  the  street, 
and  the  lower  one  next  to  the  court. 


XXII,  9.  Thou  shalt  not  sow  thy  vineyard  with  divers  seeds: 
lest  the  fruit  of  thy  seed  which  thou  hast  sown,  and  the  fruit 
of  thy  vineyard,  be  defiled. 

The  Zabians  were  accustomed  to  sow  barley  and  dried  grapes  together, 
believing  that  without  this  union  there  would  not  be  a  good  vintage;  but 
that  with  it  the  gods  would  be  propitious  to  them.  Bishop  Patrick  observes, 
that  if  the  Israelites  had  done  this  the  fruits  of  the  harvest  would  have 
been  impure,  because  associated  with  idolatry.  The  first-fruits  would  not 
have  been  accepted  by  God,  and  hence  the  whole  crop  would  have  been 


XXII,  11.  Thou  shalt  not  wear  a  garment  of  divers  sorts,  as 
of  woolen  and  linen  together. 

This  was  in  opposition  to  the  Zabian  priests,  who  wore  robes  of  woolen 
and  linen,  perhaps  hoping  thereby  to  have  the  benefit  of  some  lucky  con 
junction  of  planets,  which  would  bring  a  blessing  on  their  sheep  and  their 
flax.  It  is  said  that  the  pious  Jews  would  not  sew  a  garment  of  woolen 
with  a  linen  thread,  and  that  if  one  saw  an  Israelite  wearing  a  garment  of 
mixed  cloth  it  was  lawful  for  him  to  fall  upon  him  and  tear  the  forbidden 
garment  to  pieces. 


XXIV,  10, 11.  When  thou  dost  lend  thy  brother  any  thing,  thou 
Shalt  not  go  into  his  house  to  fetch  his  pledge.  Thou  shalt 
Btand  abroad,  and  the  man  to  whom  thou  dost  lend  shall 
bring  out  the  pledge  abroad  unto  thee. 

This  was  a  humane  law  designed  to  protect  the  poor  man  from  the 
intrusion  of  the  money  lender.  "  The  strict  laws  regulating  Oriental  inter 
course  sufficiently  guard  the  harems  of  all  but  the  very  poor.  When  the 
money  lender  goes  to  any  respectable  house  he  never  rudely  enters,  but 
stands  'abroad'  and  calls,  and  the  owner  comes  forth  to  meet  him." — 
THOMSON,  The  Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  i,  p.  500.  Another  advantage  of  this 
law  wag.  that  it  prevented  the  usurer  from  selecting  his  pledge,  giving  the 
choice  to  the  poor  debtor.  He  could  "bring  out ;'  what  he  pleased,  provided 
its  value  was  sufficient  to  meet  the  claim  of  the  creditor.  The  latter  was 
compelled  to  accept  it,  whether  pleased  with  it* or  not. 

Deuteronomy.]      BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS. 



XXIV,  12, 18.  If  the  man  be  poor,  thou  shalt  not  sleep  with  his 
pledge  :  in  any  ease  thou  shalt  deliver  him  the  pledge  again 
when  the  sun  goeth  down,  that  he  may  sleep  in  his  own 

From  this  it  would  seem  that  the  most  common  article  of  pledge  was  a 
part  of  the  clothing.  The  words  salmah  and  simlah,  (as  it  is  in  the  parallel 
passage,  Exod.  xxii,  26,)  were  used  to  denote  clothing  in  general,  but 
especially  the  large  outer  garment,  or  wrapper,  which  was  skillfully  wound 
around  the  person,  arid 
was  as  useful  at  night  for 
a  bed  covering  as  during 
the  day  for  clothing.  This 
is  the  -'raiment "  of  the 
text.  The  Orientals  do  not 
change  their  clothes  on  re 
tiring  to  rest,  and  hence 
this  large  outer  garment 
becomes  very  serviceable. 
To  keep  such  a  garment 
fiora  a  poor  man  over  night 
was  indeed  an  act  of  in 
humanity  which  is  justly 
condemned  by  the  law. 
The  consequences  of  such 
cruelty  are  touchingly  de 
scribed  by  Job  where  he 
speaks  of  the  works  of 
wicked  men:  "The}* cause 
the  naked  to  lodge  without  clothing,  lliat  they  have  no  covering  in  the  cold. 
They  are  wet  with  the  showers  of  the  mountains,  and  embrace  the  rock  for 
want  of  a  shelter."  Job  xxiv,  7,  8. 

The  abba  of  the  modern  Bedawi  is  supposed  to  bear  a  close  resemblance 
to  the  ancient  garment  spoken  of.  It  is  made  of  wool  and  hair,  of  various 
degrees  of  fineness;  is  sometimes  entirely  black,  and  sometimes  entirely 
white;  and  is  marked  with  two  broad  stripes.  It  is  altogether  shapeless, 
being  like  a  square  sack,  with  an  opening  in  front,  and  with  slits  at  the  sides 
to  let  out  the  arms.  Yery  similar  to  this  is  the  hyke,  which  is  worn  by  the 
Moors  of  Northern  Africa,  and  used  by  them  for  a  covering  at  night  and  for 
a  cloak  by  day.  Dr.  Shaw  speaks  of  f-everal  varieties  of  the  liylie,  both  as  to 
size  and  quali'y.  It  is  a  loose  but  troublesome  garment,  being  frequently 


114  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.      [Deuteronomy. 

disconcerted  and  falling  to  the  ground;  so  that  the  person  who  wears  it  is 
every  moment  obliged  to  tuck  it  up  arid  fold  it  anew  about  his  body." — 
Travels,  p.  224.  It  is  often  used  to  wrap  up  burdens  that  are  to  be  carried, 
and  in  this  way  the  Israelites  carried  their  kneading  troughs  wrapped  up  in 
the  folds  of  their  outer  garments,  and  borne  on  their  shoulders.  Exod. 
xii,  34. 

The  outer  garment  is  in  the  New  Testament  represented  by  the  word 
ifidnov,  which  in  the  Septuagint  is  the  word  used  in  this  text  and  in  Exod. 
xxii,  26.  It  is  called  a  cloak  in  Matt,  v,  40;  raiment  in  Matt,  xxvii,  31; 
vesture  in  Rev.  xix,  13;  garment  in  Matt,  xiv,  36.  In  most  of  the  passages 
in  the  New  Testament  where  the  word  "garment"  is  used  this  is  the 
article  meant. 

This  outer  garment  was  easily  and  frequently  laid  aside.  See  Mutt. 
xxi,  7,  8  ;  xxiv,  18  ;  John  xiii,  4,  12  ;  Acts  vii,  58;  xxii,  20,  23. 


XXIV,  20.  When  them  beatest  thine  olive  tree,  thou  shall  not 
go  over  the  boughs  again :  it  shall  be  for  the  stranger,  for 
the  fatherless,  and  for  the  widow. 

This  refers  to  one  of  the  modes  of  gathering  olives  still  practiced  in  the 
East,  that  is,  by  beating  the  branches  with  sticks.  It  was  mercifully 
ordered  that  the  Israelites  should  give  the  trees  but  one  beating,  leaving 
for  the  poor  gleaners  all  the  fruit  that  did  not  by  this  means  drop  oft'. 

Olives  are  gathered  also  by  shaking  the  trees.  This  is  referred  to  in  Isa. 
xvii,  6,  and  xxiv,  13.  In  these  passages  the  mode  of  gleaning  seems  to  be 
referred  to. 


XXV,  4.  Thou,  shalt  not  muzzle  the  ox  when  he  treadeth  out 
the  corn. 

Threshing  was  sometimes  done  by  instruments,  (see  note  on  Isa. 
xxviii,  27,  28,)  and  sometimes  by  having  the  grain  trampled  under  foot 


by  horses  or  oxen.     This  is  still  a  common  mode  in  the  East.     The  cattle 
are  driven  over  the  grain,  treading  heavily  as  they  go,  and  in  this   rude, 

Deuteronomy.]      BIBLE    MAXNEKS   AND    CUSTOMS.  Ho 

wasteful  manner  the  threshing  is  accomplished.  In  general,  the  patient 
bea.sts  are  allowed  to  eat  of  the  grain  they  tread  out,  though  sometimes 
they  are  muzzled  by  parsimonious  masters.  See  also  Hosea  x,  11.  Paul 
from  this  law  enforces  the  duty  of  ministerial  support.  1  Cor.  ix,  9. 

20§.— BAREFOOT. 

XXV,  10.    His   name    shall    be    called    in     Israel,    The    house    of 
him  that  hath  his   shoe  loosed. 

To  go  barefoot  was  a  sign  of  distress  and  humiliation.  Thus  David  went 
up  Mount  Olivet  when  he  left  Jerusalem  at  the  time  of  Absalom's  rebellion. 
2  Sam.  xv,  30.  The  humiliation  of  the  Egyptians  was  represented  by  the 
-  prediction  of  their  walking  barefoot.  Isa.  xx,  2-4.  When  Ezekiel  was  direct 
ed  to  cease  his  mourning  he  was  told  to  put  on  his  shoes.  Ezek.  xxiv,  17. 
Michaelis  says,  "Barefooted  was  a  term  of  reproach,  and  probablv  signified 
a  man  who  had  sold  everything,  a  spendthrift  and  a  bankrupt."—  Com.  Laws 
Moses,  vol.  i,  p.  435.  In  this  way  the  man  who  refused  to  marry  his 
brother's  childless  widow  was  considered  a  worthless  fellow. 

209.— WEIGHTS. 

XXV,  13.    Thou    shalt    not    have    in    thy    bag   divers    weights     a 
great  and  a  small. 

1.  The  marginal  reading  for  "divers  weights  "  is  "a  stone  and  a  stone," 
which  is  a  literal  rendering  of  the  Hebrew.     See  also  Prov.  xi,  1;  xvi,  11. 
Weights  were  no  doubt  originally  made  of  different-sized  stones,  from  which 
fact  eben,  a  stone,  was  used  to  signify  a  weight,  even  afier  other  materials 
were  used  for  weights.     We  have  the  word  "stone  "  in  our  own  language 
to  denote  a  weight  of  a  certain  size,  and  the  Germans  use  the  corresponding 
word  stein  for  a  similar  purpose. 

2.  Oriental  peddlers  still  have,  as  in  ancient  times,  two  sets  of  weights,  one 
for  buying  and  the  other  for  selling.     Allusion  is  made  to  this  species  of 
dishonesty  in  Prov.  xx,  10,  and  in  Micah  vi,  11. 


XXVI,  14.      I   have   not   eaten   thereof  in   my   mourning,    neither 
have   I  taken   away  aught    thereof    for    any    unclean    use,     nor 
given   aught  thereof  for  the   dead. 

There  is  no  evidence  of  any  allusion  here  to  idolatrous  customs.  The 
reference  is  probably  to  the  feasts  which  were  given  on  funeral  occasions  to 
the  friends  assembled.  See  Hosea  ix,  4.  The  custom  still  exists  in  Pales 
tine.  The  phrase  "given  aught  thereof  for  the  dead"  may  have  reference 
to  the  practice  of  sending  provisions  into  a  house  of  mourning;  to  which 

116  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.      [Deuteronomy. 

custom  allusion  is  supposed  to  be  made  in  2  Sam.  iii,  35,  where  David,  on 
occasion  of  Abner's  death,  refused  to  eat  the  food  which  was  set  before  him. 
The  expression  '•  Eat  not  the  bread  of  men,"  in  Ezek.  xxiv,  17,  is  thought 
10  refer  to  the  same  custom.  See  also  Jer.  xvi,  7,  8.  Dr.  Thomson,  how 
ever,  furnishes  a  different  explanation  to  this  giving  for  the  dead.  He  says : 
••  OD  certain  days  after  the  funeral  large  quantities  of  corn  and  other  food 
are  cooked  in  a  particular  manner,  and  sent  to  all  the  friends,  however  nu 
merous,  in  the  name  of  the  dead.  I  have  had  many  such  presents,  but  my 
dislike  of  the  practice,  or  something  else,  renders  these  dishes  peculiarly  dis 
gusting  to  me." — The  Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  i,  p.  150. 


XXVII,  2,  3.  Thou  shalt  set  thee  up  great  stones,  and  plaster 
them  with  plaster :  and  thou  shalt  write  upon  them  all  the 
words  of  this  law. 

Michaelis  supposed  that  the  letters  were  first  cut  in  the  stone  and  then 
covered  entirely  with  plaster,  so  that  in  the  coming  ages,  when  the  cement 
should  crumble  off,  the  law  might  be  found  in  all  its  integrity.  Tn  this  he 
has  been  followed  by  some  commentators.  The  probability,  however,  is, 
that  the  lime  was  first  spread  over  the  stones,  and  the  words  of  the  law  then 
cut  into  the  plaster  or  painted  on  it.  Such  stones  thus  prepared,  two  thou 
sand  years  ago  or  longer,  are  still  in  existence  in  Palestine.  The  Egyp 
tians  are  said  to  have  spread  a  kind  of  stucco  over  sandstone,  and  even  over 
granite,  before  the  paintings  were  made.  Prokesch  found  in  the  tombs  in 
the  pyramids  of  Dashoor  a  stone  on  which  red  mortar  had  first  been  laid, 
and  then  the  hieroglyphics  and  a  figure  of  Apis  impressed  on  the  coating. 


XXXII,  5.  They  have  corrupted  themselves,  their  spot  is  not 
the  spot  of  his  children. 

The  spot  or  blot  here  spoken  of  is  said  to  be  something  that  does  not  be 
long  to  the  children  of  God.  "  Their  spot  is  not  of  his  children."  Allusion 
is  supposed  to  be  made  here  to  tire  marks  which  idolaters  put  upon  their 
persons,  particularly  on  their  foreheads,  in  honor  of  their  deities.  It  is  a 
very  ancient  practice,  and  probably  existed  before  Moses'  time.  Forbes,  in 
his  Oriental  Memoirs,  says  that  in  India  different  idolatrous  sects  have  differ 
ent  marks.  These  are  specially  common  among  the  two  principal  sects,  the 
worshipers  of  Siva  and  the  worshipers  of  Vishnoo.  The  marks  are  hori 
zontal  and  perpendicular  lines;  crescents  or  circles ;  or  representations  of 
leaves,  eyes,  and  other  objects.  They  are  impressed  on  the  forehead  by  the 
officiating  Brahmin  with  a  composition  of  sandal-wood  dust  and  oil,  or  the 

Deuteronomy.]       BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  117 

ashes  of  cow  dung   arid  turmeric.     The  colors  are  red,  black,  white,  and 
yellow.     lu  many  cases  these  marks  are  renewed  daily. 

Zophar  may  have  referred  to  a  similar  custom  when  he  spoke  to  Job  about 
lifting  up  his  face  without  spot.  Job  xi,  15.  Eliphaz  also  spoke  of  lifting 
up  the  face  to  God.  Job  xxii,  26.  Job  himself  subsequently  denied  that  any 
blot  was  on  his  hands.  Job  xxxi,  7.  In  the  Revelation  of  St.  John 'there 
are  several  references  to  idolatrous  marks  on  the  forehead  and  hands.  See 
Rev.  xiii,  16;  xiv,  9;  xix,  20;  xx,  4. 


XXXIII,  24.  Let  him  be  acceptable  to  his  brethren,  and  let  him. 
dip  his  foot  in  oil. 

This  refers  to  the  primitive  method  of  treading  the  olives  in  order  to  ex 
press  the  oil.  It  is  not  now  practiced,  and  could  only  be  done  when  the 
olives  were  very  soft.  There  is  a  similar  allusion  in  Micah  vi,  15.  See  also 
the  note  on  Job  xxix,  6. 


XXXIII,  27.  The  eternal  God  is  thy  refuge,  and  underneath 
are  the  everlasting  arms. 

By  this  bold  image  Moses  represents  the  protecting  power  of  God;  thua 
reversing  the  idea  of  the 
Egyptians,  who  had  pict 
ures  of  the  god  FEorus  with 
inverted  head  and  out 
stretched  arms  over  the 
earth.  This  was  one  mode 
by  which  they  represent 
ed  the  vault  of  heaven, 

as  is  shown  in  the  engrav 
ing.     The  beetle,  or  scarabseus,  is  the  hieroglyphic  for  the  name  of  Horus. 


118  BIBLE   MANNERS    AND   CUSTOMS.  [Joshua. 


215.— ROOFS    USED   FOR    STORAGE. 

II,  6.  She  had  brought  them  up  to  the  roof  of  the  house,  and 
hid  them  with  the  stalks  of  flax,  which  she  had  laid  in  order 
upon  the  roof. 

The  flat  roofs  of  Eastern  houses,  being  exposed  to  sun  nnd  air,  are  well 
adapted  for  the  reception  of  grain  or  fruit,  which  may  be  placed  there  to 
ripen  or  to  be  dried.     The  flax-stalks,  piled  upon  the  roof  to  dry  in  the  sun-,, 
shine,  would  afford  a  very  good  hiding-place  for  the  spies. 

216.— KNIVES. 

V,  2.  At  that  time  the  Lord  said  unto  Joshua,  Make  thee 
sharp  knives. 

Knives  were  made  of  flint,  bone,  copper,  iron,  or  steel.  Specimens  of 
ancient  Egyptian  and  Assyrian  knives  are  to  be  found  in  museums,  and  they 
probably  have  a  general  resemblance  to  those  used  by  the  Hebrews.  They 
are  of  various  shapes,  according  to  the  purpose  for  which  they  were  made. 
Knives  were  not  much  iised  at  meals.  Even  to  this  day  the  Orientals  prefer 
dividing  their  meat  with  the  fingers. 

217.— STONE    HEAPS. 

VII,  26.     And  they  raised  over  him  a  great  heap  of  stones. 

It  was  customary  to  heap  up  stones  as  rude  monuments  of  important 
events.  See  Gen.  xxxi,  46  ;  Josh,  iv,  3,  6.  In  the  case  of  rioted  criminals  this 
was  done,  not  merely  to  mark  the  spot  of  their  burial,  but  as  a  monument  of 
the  popular  abhorrence  of  their  crimes.  This  case  of  Achan  is  an  illustra 
tion.  Another  instance  may  be  found  in  the  case  of  Absalom.  2  Sam. 
xviii,  17.  When  Joshua  captured  and  hanged  the  king  of  Ai,  he  commanded 
a  heap  of  stones  to  be  raised  over  his  grave.  Travelers  tell  us  that  it  is  still 
customary  in  Palestine  to  cast  stones  upon  the  graves  of  criminals,  the  pass 
ers-by  adding  to  the  heap  for  a  long  time  afterward.  In  the  valley  of  Jehosh- 
aphat  is  a  monument  popularly  known  by  the  name  of  "Absalom's  Tomb," 
and  supposed  to  mark  the  site  of  the  "pillar"  which  Absalom  set  up  for 
himself  ''in  the  king's  dale."  2  Sam.  xviii,  18.  Mohammedans  and  Jews 
have  for  very  many  years  been  in  the  habit  of  casting  stones  at  it  as  they 
pass,  in  token  of  their  detestation  of  the  crime  of  the  rebellious  son. 

IX,    4.    \Vine  bottles,  old,  and  rent,  and  bound  up. 

Bottles  made  of  skins  when  they  get  old  are  liable  to  be  torn.  The  rents 
are  repaired  by  sewing  the  broken  edges  together,  by  letting  in  a  piece  of 




leather,  by  putting  in  a  round  piece  of  wood,  or  by  gathering  up  the  rent 
place  like  a  purse. 
For  a  description  of  skin  bottles,  see  note  on  Matt,  ix,  17. 


IX,  21.     Let  them  be  hewers  of  wood  and  drawers  of  water. 
This  was  a  degradation  that  must  have  been  greatly  felt  by  the  Gibeonites, 

since  it  compelled  them  to  relinquish  the  duties  of  soldiers,  and  take  upon 
themselves  menial  services  usually  performed  by  women. 


X,  24.  Come  near,  put  your  feet  upon   the    necks  of  these  kings. 
And    they    came   near,   and   put  their   feet    upon   the    necks    of 

This  is  an  ancient  Oriental  mode  of 
treating  captured  kings,  not  as  an  act 
of  cruelty,  but  as  a  symbolical  repre 
sentation  of  complete  subjugation. 
Compare  notes  on  Gen.  xlix,  8,  and 
1  Cor.  xv,  25. 

Roberts  says  of  the  East  Indians : 
"  When  people  are  disputing,  should 
one  be  a  little  pressed,  and  the  other 
begins  to  triumph,  the  former  will 
say,  '  I  will  tread  upon  thy  neck,  and 
after  that  beat  thee.'  A  low-caste 
man  insulting  one  who  is  high,  is 
sure  to  hear  some  one  say  to  the 
offended  individual,  'Put  your  feet 

on  his  neck.'  "—Oriental  Illustrations, 

.    _  '     11- — ASSYRIAN  KING  PLACING  HIS  FOOT  on 

P'    lrfl3'  THE   NECK   OF   AN    ENEMY. 



I,  6.  They  pursued  after  him,  and  caught  him,  and  cut  off 
his  thumbs  and  his  great  toes. 

This  was  an  ancient  method  of  treating  captured  enemies.  It  rendered 
them  permanently  incapable  of  performing  the  duties  of  a  soldier.  Accord- 
ing  to  his  own  confession,  (verse  7,)  Adoni-bezek  had  practiced  the  same 
cruelties  on  many  of  the  royal  captives  whom  he  had  taken  in  battle.  Tho 


Assyrian  kings  were  addicted  to  similar  cruelties.  One  of  the  ancient  mon 
uments  bears  an  inscription  which  was  put  upon  it  by  order  of  Asshur-izir- 
pal,  who  began  his  reign  B.  C.  883.  In  this  he  says,  speaking  of  a  captured 
city,  "Their  men,  young  and  old,  1  took  prisoners.  Of  some  I  cut  off  the 
feet  and  hands ;  of  others  I  cut  off  the  noses,  ears,  and  lips ;  of  the  young 
men's  ears  I  made  a  heap ;  of  the  old  men's  heads  T  built  a  minaret." — 
KAWLIXSON'S  Five  Great  Monarchies,  vol.  ii,  p.  85,  note. 


Ill,  7.  The  children  of  Israel  did  evil  in  the  sight  of  the  Lord, 
and  forgat  the  Lord  their  God,  and  served  Baalim  and  the 

1.  Baalim  is  the  plural  of  Baal.     Gresenius  defines  it  "  images  of  Baal." 
Against  this,  however,  it  has  been  said  that  the  verbs  which  are  associated 
in  the  Bible  with  the  word  Baalim  are  not  verbs  which  are  used  in  con 
nection  with  images,  such  as  "setup,"  "cast  down,"  "adorn,"  or  "break 
in  pieces;  "  but  rather  verbs  which  are  used  in  connection  with  heathen  de 
ities,  e.  g.,  "to  serve,"  ''worship,"  "seek to,"  "go after,"  "put  away."     See 
Fairbairn's  Imp.  Bib.  Diet,  vol.  i,  pp.  137,  167.     Some  of  these  latter  terms, 
however,  can  be  used  as  properly  in  reference  to  images  as  to  deities. 

Some  writers  explain  the  word  as  indicating  or  including  the  various 
modifications  of  Baal,  such  as  Baal-Peor,  Baal-Berith,  Baal-Zebub.  This 
might  find  illustration  in  Hosea  ii,  17  :  "  For  I  will  take  away  the  names 
of  Baalim  out  of  her  mouth,  and  they  shall  no  more  be  remembered  by  their 

Others  suppose  Baalim  to  be  what  the  old  grammarians  called  the  pluralis 
excellcntice;  a  form  of-speech  designed  to  describe  the  god  in  the  w;de  extent 
of  his  influence  and  the  various  modes  of  his  manifestation.  The  word  is 
of  frequent  occurrence  iu  the  Old  Testament.  See  Judges  ii,  11;  viii,  33  ; 
x,  10  ;  1  Sam.  vii,  4;  xii,  10;  2  Chron.  xxiv,  7  ;  Jer.  ii,  23  ;  ix,  14;  etc. 

2.  The  word  asheroth,  here  rendered  "groves,"  is  often  found  either  in 
singular  or  plural  form.     In  most  places  where  it  is  used,  the  word  "  groves  " 
is  evidently  inappropriate,  though  in  this  our  English  translation  is  like  the 
Septuagiut  and  the  Vulgate.     Selden,  the  eminent  lawyer  and  antiquarian, 
in  his  work  De  Diis  Syris  Syntagmata  Duo,  published  in  1617,  was  the  first 
to  suggest  that  the  word  must  be  understood  to  mean,  at  least  in  some 
places,  not  groves,  but  images  of  Ashtoreth,  the  companion  deity  to  Baal. 
This  is  the  view  now  entertained  by  some  of  the  best  critics.     It  is  cer 
tainly  more  correct  to  speak  of  making  images  than  to   say  that  groves 
were   made.      If  the   words   "  image  of  Ashtoreth "  or  "  images  of  Ash 
toreth  "  are  substituted  for  the  word  "  grove  "  or  "  groves  "  in  the  following 
passages  the  sense  will   be   much    clearer:     1  Kings  xvi,   33;    2  Kings 




xvii,  16;  xxi,  3;  2  Chron.  xxxiii,  3.  So  in  2  Kings  xvii,  10,  and  in 
2  Chron.  xxxiii,  19,  it  is  said  that  asherotk  were  set  up;  that  is,  these  wooden 
figures  of  Ashtoreth,  in  addition  to  the  graven  images  also  mentioned. 
"In  the  days  of  Josiah  there  was  an  asherah  in  God's  house.  We  are 
told  in  2  Kings  xxiii,  6,  what  the  good  king  did  with  it;  "And  ho 
brought  out  the  grove  from  the  house  of  the  Lord,  without  Jerusa 
lem,  unto  the  brook  Kidron,  and  burned  it  at  the  brook  Kidron,  and  stamped 
it  small  to  powder,  and  cast  the  powder  thereof  upon  the  graves  of  the 
children  of  the  people."  All  this  is  much  more  appropriately  said  of  an 
image  than  of  a  grove.  This  asherah  likewise  had  over  it  a  canopy  or  tent, 
woven  by  the  women.  2  Kings  xxiii,  7.  It  was  doubtless  the  same  image 
which  Manasseh  had  put  into  the  house  of  the  Lord.  2  Kings  xxi,  7.  From 
Judges  vi,  25-30,  and  from  other  passages  which  speak  of  the  asheroth  as 
cut  or  burnt,  it  appears  that  they  were  made  of  wood.  Some  suppose 
that  the  expression  "  stamped  it  small  to  powder,"  in  the  text  above  quoted, 
indicates  that  the  asherah  in  that  instance  was  made  of  metal,  since  other 
wise  there  would  have  been  no  need  ofl  stamping  it  after  burning;  but  the 
king  may  have  pulverized  the  burnt  wood  in  order  more  deeply  to  express 
his  detestation  of  the  idolatry  which  had  occasioned  its  erection. 

The  asherah  of  the  Phenicians  is  thought  by  some  writers  to  be  connected 
with  the  "  sacred  tree  "  of  the  Assyrians,  an  object  which  appears  very  fre 
quently  on  the  Assyrian  monuments.  If  this  conjecture  be  based  on  face 
we  may  find  in  the  representations  of  the  sacred  tree 
which  have  come  down  to  us  a  picture  of  the  asherah 
which  the  idolatrous  Jews  worshiped. 

Another  opinion,  which  has  found  favor  in  some 
quarters,  is,  that  Asherah  was  the  name  of  a  goddess 
worshiped  by  the  Canaauites,  either  Ashtore  1)  or 
some  other.  The  word  "  served  "  in  the  text,  and 
in  2  Chron.  xxiv,  18,  seems  at  first  to  sanction  this 
view;  but  as  the  passages  previous^  quoted  evi 
dently  speak  of  wooden  images,  it  is  probable  that 
in  these  two  texts  the  symbol  is  put,  by  metonymy, 
for  the  divinity. 

A  learned  English  writer,  some  years  ago,  ad 
vanced  a  very  singular  idea  in  reference  to  the  ash 
erah.  He  suggested  that  it  was  "an  armillary  and 

astronomical  machine  or  instrument,  erected  long,  very  long  ago — quite  in 
the  primitive  ages;"  that  it  was  used  for  purposes  of  divination  in  con 
nection  with  idolatrous  worship ;  that  it  was  probably  about  the  height  of  a 
man,  and  had  small  balls  branching  off  curvedly  from  the  sustaining  rod  or 
axis;  and  that  this  axis  was  made  of  iron  and  brnss,  the  bottom  being  set 





in  a  socket  of  stone,  in  which  it  turned  as  a  pivot,  requiring  oil  for  lubrica 
tion.  In  proof  of  this  last  assertion  he  refers  to  the  blessing  which  Moses 
pronounced  on  Asher.  Deut.  xxxiii,  24.  25.  He  assumes  that  the  word 
Asher  in  that  text  has  reference  to  the  asherah ;  that  the  shoes  of  iron  and 
brass  refer  to  the  axis  of  the  armillary  machine,  the  foot  of  which  is  dipped 
in  oil,  that  it  may  revolve  more  easily!  The  reasoning  of  his  lengthy 
dissertation  is  more  curious  than  conclusive.  See  Sabcean  Researches,  by 

223.— LOCKS. 

Ill,  23.  Then  Ehud,  went  forth  through  the  porch,  and  shut  the 
doors  of  the  parlor  upon  him,  and  locked  them. 

The  early  Oriental  lock  consisted  merely  of  a  wooden  slide  drawn  into  its 
place  by  a  string,  and  fastened  there  by  teeth  or  catches.  The  lock  com 
monly  used  in  Egypt  and  Palestine  is  a  long  hollow  piece  of  wood  fixed  in 
the  door  and  sliding  back  and  forth.  A  hole  is  made  for  it  in  the  door  post, 
and  when  it  is  pushed  into  this  hole  small  bolts  of  iron  wire  fall  into  holes 
which  are  made  for  them  in  the  top  of  the  lock.  The  lock  is  placed  on  the 
inside  of  the  door,  and  a  hole  is  made  in  the  door  near  the  lock,  through 
which  the  hand  can  be  passed,  and  the  key  inserted.  This  will  explain 
Solomon's  Song  v,  4,  "  My  beloved  put  in  his  hand  by  the  hole  of  the  door." 
Some  of  these  locks  are  very  large  and  heavy. 

224.— KEYS. 

Ill,  25.  Behold,  he  opened  not  the  «doors  of  the  parlor:  there 
fore  they  took  a  key  and  opened  them. 

The  key  was  usually  of  wood,  though  some  have  been  found  in  Egypt  of 

iron  and  bronze.  The  ordinary  wood 
en  key  is  from  six  inches  to  two  feet  in 
length,  often  having  a  handle  of  brass 
or  silver,  ornamented  with  filagree 
work.  At  the  end  there  are  wire  pins, 
which  are  designed  to  loosen  the 
fastenings  of  the  lock.  The  key  was 
anciently  borne  on  the  shoulder.  See 
note  on  Isaiah  xxii,  22. 

225.— OX-GOADS. 

Ill,  81.     Shamgar  the  son  of  Anath,   which   slew  of  the   Philis 
tines  six  hundred  men  with  an  ox-goad. 

This  must  have  been  a  formidable  weapon  if.  as  is  doubtless  the  case,  the 
goad  of  that  day   was  similar  to  the  one  now  used  in  Palestine,     [t,  is  i\ 

Judges.]  BIBLE    MAXNEIJS   AND   CUSTOMS.  123 

strong  pole  about  eight  feet  long  and  two  inclies  in  diameter.  At  one  end 
is  a  sharp  point  for  pricking  the  oxen  when  their  movements  become 
Intolerably  slow,  and  at  the  other  end  is  a  broad  chisel-like  blade,  which  is 
used  to  clear  the  plowshare  of  the  roots  and  thorns  which  impede  it,  or 
of  the  stiff  clay  which  adheres  to  it.  The  pointed  end  of  this  instrument  is 
alluded  to  in  Acts  ix,  5;  xxvi,  14. 

226.— WHITE  ASSES. 

\T,  10.  Speak,  ye  that  ride  on  white  asses,  ye  that  sit  in  judg 
ment,  and  walk  by  the  way. 

There  is  no  reason  to  interpret,  as  some  writers  do.  the  expression 
"white  asses,"  to  mean  asses  covered  with  white  caparisons.  The  inten 
tion  is  to  indicate  the  wealth  and  luxury  of  the  riders;  and  as  asses  wholly 
white,  or  even  nearly  so,  are  rare  and  costly,  the  men  who  own  them  must 
be  classed'  among  the  rich  and  influential.  Morier  says  that  in  Persia  the 
Mollahs,  or  men  of  the  law,  consider  it  a  dignity  suited  to  their  character  to 
ride  on  white  asses. 


V,  11.  They  that  are  delivered  from  the  noise  of  archers  in 
the  places  of  drawing  water,  there  shall  they  rehearse  the 
righteous  acts  of  the  Lord. 

This  refers  to  the  practice  of  lying  in  ambush  near  wells  and  springs 
for  the  purpose  of  seizing  flocks  and  herds  when  brought  thither  for  water. 
Moses  defended  his  future  wife  and  her  sisters  against  those  who  attacked 
them  a-t  the  well.  Exod.  ii,  17.  Dr.  Shaw  saw,  near  the  coast  of  the 
western  province  of  Algiers,  a  basin  of  Roman  workmanship,  which  received 
the  water  of  a  beautiful  rill,  and  which  was  called  by  the  suggestive  title 
of  Shrub  we  krub,  that  is,  Drink  and  away.  The  name  was  given  on  ac 
count  of  robbers,  who  lurked  for  booty  near  the  drink  cg-place. 

22§.— WINDOWS. 

V,  28.  The  mother  of  Sisera  looked  out  at  a  window,  and 
cried  through  the  lattice. 

The  walls  of  Oriental  houses  present  but  few  windows  to  the  street,  and 
these  are  high  up  from  the  ground.  They  very  seldom  have  glass  in  them, 
but  are  made  of  lattice- work,  which  is  arranged  for  coolness,  and  also  to  give 
the  inmates  an  opportunity  of  seeing  without  being  seen.  These  windows 
are  sometimes  thrown  out  from  the  wall  like  our  bay-windows,  and  thus 
ftfford  a  good  opportunity  of  seeing  what  is  going  on  in  the  street  below. 
They  are  not  hung  like  our  ordinary  sashes,  but  open  and  shut  like  doors. 
The  window  spoken  of  in  the  text  was  evidently  on  the  street  side  of  the 
aouse.  So  also  was  the  window  from  which  Michal  saw  David,  (1  Sam, 

124  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [Judges. 

vi,  1C;)  the  window  from  which  Joash  shot  the  arrows,  (2  Kings  xiii,  17;) 
the  window  spoken  of  in  Prov.  vii,  G,  and  in  Sol.  Song  ii,  9;  and  probably 
the  windows  which  Daniel  opened  when  he  prayed.  Dan.  vi,  10.  The  win 
dow  from  which  Jezebel  was  hurled  may  have  opened  into  the  street  or  into 
the  court,  (2  Kings  ix,  30-33;)  so  may  also  the  window  from  which  Euty- 
chus  fell.  Acts  xx,  9. 


V,  30.  To  Sisera  a  prey  of  divers  colors,  a  prey  of  divers 
colors  of  needlework,  of  divers  colors  of  needlework  on  both 

Rikmah,  here  rendered  "needlework,"  means  work  made  in  different 
colors,  whether  by  means  of  the  needle  or  the  loom.  Precisely  how  this 
beautiful  cloth  was  made  is  not  now  known.  The  Israelites  were-  doubtless 
able  to  make  figured  cloth  either  with  the  needle  or  by  weaving,  since 
there  is  evidence  from  the  Egyptian  monuments  that  both  methods  were 
very  ancient.  The  Israelites  could  therefore  have  learned  the  art  in  Egypt. 
Elegant  and  highly  ornamented  garments  have  ever  been  greatly  prized  by  the 
Orientals.  Babylon  was  anciently  specially  famous  for  their  manufacture; 
whence  the  expression,  "Babylonish  garments."  Josh,  vii,  21.  In  the  sack 
ing  of  cities  or  camps  all  these  variegated  cloths  were  considered  highly 
desirable  booty.  Thus  Deborah,  in  this  fine  battle-poem,  represents  the  ladies 
who  attended  on  the  mother  of  Sisera  as  suggesting  to  her  that  her  son  was 
detained  because  of  the  valuable  spoil  he  had  taken.  Gold  thread  was  some 
times  used  in  the  manufacture  of  beautiful  garments.  See  Psa.  xlv,  13,  14. 
The  prophet  Ezekiel  refers  to  the  fondness  of  the  Assyrians  for  costly  cloth 
ing.  See  Ezek.  xxiii,  12,  and  the  note  on  that  passage. 


VII,  16.  He  divided  the  three  hundred  men  into  three  com 
panies,  and  he  put  a  trumpet  in  every  man's  hand,  with 
empty  pitchers,  and  lamps  within  the  pitchers. 

These  "lamps"  were  probably  torches,  which  could  be  quickly  prepared 
for  the  use  of  the  three  hundred  men.  Lane  says,  that  in  the  streets  of 
Cairo  the  Agha  of  the  police  goes  about  at  night  accompanied  by  an  execu 
tioner  and  a  torch  bearer,  the  latter  of  whom  carries  with  him  a  torch 
which  is  called  "shealeh."  "This  torch  burns,  soon  after  it  is  lighted,  with 
out  a  flame,  excepting  when  it  is  waved  through  the  air,  when  it  suddenly 
blazes  forth;  it  therefore  answers  the  same  purpose  as  our  dark  lantern. 
The  burning  end  is  sometimes  concealed  in  a  small  pot  or  jar,  or  covered 
with  something  else  when  not  required  to  give  light."— Manners  and  Customs 
of  the  Modern  Egyptians,  vol.  i.  p.  178. 




44 — CAMELS' 

VIII,  21.    The  ornaments  that  were  on  their  camels'    necks. 

Saharonim,  here  translated  ornaments,  is  in  Isa.  iii,  18,  rendered  "round 
tires  like  the  moon."  In  Judges  viii,  26,  it  is  paid  that  there  were  chains 
about  the  camels'  necks.  It  thus 
appears  that  these  camels  had  gold 
chains  around  their  necks  on  which 
were  the  saharonim,  or  little  moons, 
probably  gold  ornaments  shaped  like 
a  moon  either  fall  or  crescent.  "  Per 
haps  they  were  made  in  honor  of  the  /  v 
moon-faced  Astarte,  and  intimated 
that  they  who  bore  them  were  placed 
under  her  protection.  The  taking 
away  of  these  ornaments  would  thus  be  a  removal  of  idolatrous  objects.''— 
Wordsworth.  The  Arabs  of  the  present  day  are  accustomed  to  hang  orna 
ments  around  the  necks  of  their  camels.  Some  are  shaped  like  crescents, 
and  are  made  of  cowrie  shells  PC  wed  on  a  baud  of  leather  or  cloth. 


VIII,  33.    The  children  of  Israel .  .  .  made  Baal-berith  their  god. 

Baal-berilh,  or  the  covenant  Baal,  was  one  of  the  numerous  Baalim  that 
the  Israelites  worshiped  at  different  times.  We  have  no  definite  description 
of  this  god.  A  temple  was  built  for  him  at  Shechem,  (Judges  ix,  46,)  but 
what  were  Ihe  special  ceremonies  we  do  not  know.  The  worship  is  sup 
posed  to  have  been  an  imitation  of  the  worship  of  Jehovah;  an  adulteration 
of  that  worship,  in  which  Baal  was  put  in  the  place  of  Jehovah. 


XIV,  7,  8.  He  went  down,  and  talked  with  the  woman  ;  and 
she  pleased  Samson  well.  And  after  a  time  he  returned  to 
take  her. 

The  former  part  of  this  passage  has  reference,  doubtless,  to  the  betrothal; 
the  latter  part,  to  the  marriage.  About  a  year  usually  elapsed  between 
betrothal  and  marriage,  though  this  was  not  always  the  case.  Tt?e  expres 
sion  "after  a  time,"  literally,  after  days,  is  sometimes  equivalent  to  a  year. 

See  also  note  on  Matt,  i,  1 8. 

234.— RIDDLES. 

XIV,  12.  Samson  said  unto  them,  I  will  now  put  forth  a  rid 
dle  unto  you. 

The  Hebrews,  in  common  with  all  Oriental  people,  were  very  fond  of  rid 
dles,  and  amused  themselves  with  them,  especially  at  ordinary  meals  ami 

126  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Judges. 

feasts.  Even  princes  sometimes  competed  in  their  solution.  The  queen  of 
Sheba  tested  Solomon's  wisdom  with  them.  See  1  Kings  x,  1,  where  the 
plural  of  the  word  which  is  here  rendered  riddle  is  translated  "hard  ques 


XVI,  21.    The    Philistines  .  .  .  bound    him    with    fetters    of    brass  ; 
and.  he  did    grind   in   the   prison   house. 

Grinding  a  hand  mill  was  the  lowest  kind  of  slave  labor.  Among  the 
Greeks  and  Romans  slaves  were  sometimes  compelled  to  do  this  as  a  punish 
ment.  It  was  doubtless  considered  equally  degrading  in  the  days  of 
Samson,  and  for  this  reason  the  Philistines  condemned  him  to  it  after  they 
destroyed  his  sight.  Some  have  endeavored  to  illustrate  this  scene  by  a 
pictorial  representation  of  the  Hebrew  giant  harnessed  in  leather  bands  to  a 
huge  wooden  lever  which  is  connected  with  a  mill!  Nothing  of  the  sort  is 
referred  to  in  the  text.  The  "  ass's  mill  "  was  probably  the  invention  of  a 
later  age.  and  even  if  it  existed  in  Samson's  day,  how  could  he  use  it  when 
he  was  "  bound  with  fetters  ?  "  He  was  simply  compelled  to  do  the  degrading 
work  of  a  woman  or  a  slave  at  the  ordinary  hand-mill,  which  is  described 
•in  the  note  on  Matt,  xxiv,  41.  Jeremiah  laments  the  same  fate  which  befell 
the  young  men  of  his  people.  Lam.  v,  1 3. 

236.— DAGON. 

XVI,  23.    The    lords    of   the    Philistines    gathered  them   together 
for  to  offer  a  great  sacrifice  unto  Dagon  their  god. 

Dagon  was  the  national  god  of  the  Philistines.  The  name  is  derived  from 
dag,  a  fish.  Dagon  is  the  diminutive  of  dag,  and  s!gnifies  "little  fish;"  not 
so  much,  however,  in  reference  to  size,  as  to  the 
affection  entertained  for  it;  so  that  some  would 
render  it,  "  dear  little  fish."  From  the  description 
given  in  1  Sam.  v,  4,  the  idol  is  supposed  to  have 
been  a  combination  of  the  human  form  with  that 
of  a  fish.  "And  when  they  arose  early  on  the 
morrow  morning,  behold,  Dagon  was  fallen  upon 
j)is  face  to  the  ground  before  the  ark  of  the 
Lord ;  and  the  head  of  Dagon  and  both  the  palms 
of  his  hands  were  cut  off  upon  the  threshold; 
45.— DAGOX.  Qnjy.  t)ie  gtlimp  Of  Dagon  was  left  to  him." 

Omitting  the  words  supplied  by  the  translators  ["the  stump  of"]  and  we 
find  that  the  human  part,  consisting  of  the  head  and  hands,  was  cut  off, 
while  dagon,  or  the  fish  part,  remained.  This  description  is  corroborated  by 
ancient  traditions.  The  Babylonians  believed  that  a  being  part  man  and 
part  fish  emerged  from  the  Erythraean  Sea,  and  appeared  in  Babylonia  in  the 

Judges.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  127 

early  days  of  its  history,  and  taught  the  people  various  arts  necessary  for 
their  well-being.  Representations  of  this  fish-god  have  been  found  among 
the  sculptures  of  Nineveh.  The  Philistian  Dagon  was  of  a  similar  character. 
The  deity  is  Supposed  to  have  been  intended  to  represent  the  vivifying  and 
productive  powers  of  nature.  The  fish  was  an  appropriate  image  to  be  u>ed 
for  this  purpose,  by  reason  of  its  rapid  and  enormous  multiplication. 

XVI,  27.    Now  the    house    was    full  of   men  and  women  ;    and 
all    the    lords    of   the    Philistines    were    there  ;    and  there  were 
upon   the  roof    about   three    thousand    men    and    women,    that 
beheld  while   Samson   made   sport. 

This  building  must  have  been  of  great  size  to  have  gathered  on  its  flat 
roof  three  thousand  people.  The  blind  Samson  probably  "made  sport"  on 
one  side  of  the  inclosed  court-yard,  where  the  spectators  on  the  roof  and 
the  crowds  within  could  see  him  at  the  same  time.  In  Algiers,  on  occasions 
of  public  festivit}',  the  courtyard  of  the  palace  is  covered  with  sand  for  the 
accommodation  of  the  wrestlers,  who  are  brought  there  to  amuse  the  crowd. 
Dr.  Shaw  says,  "I  have  often  seen  numbers  of  people  diverted  in  this  man 
ner  upon  the  roof  of  the  dey's  palace  at  Algiers."  —  Travels,  p.  217. 


XVI,  29.  Samson  took  hold  of  the  two  middle  pillars  upon 
which  the  house  stood,  and  on  which  it  was  borne  up. 

The  two  "middle  pillars1'  here  spoken  of  constituted  the  key  of  the  entire 
building  :  these  failing,  the  house  would  be  destroyed.  Plmy  mentions  two 
large  theaters  built  of  wood,  and  planned  with  such  ingenuity  that  each  of 
them  depended  on  one  hinge.  Dr.  Thomson  suggests,  from  his  observations 
of  the  peculiar  topography  of  Gaza,  that  the  building  was  erected  on  a  side- 
hill,  having  a  steep  declivity,  and  in  such  a  position  that  the  removal  of  the 
central  columns  would  precipitate  the  whole  edifice  down  the  hill  in  ruinous 
confusion.  —  TJie  Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  ii,  p.  342. 


239.— GLEANING. 

II,  3.  She  went,  and  came,  and  gleaned  in  the  field  after 
the  reapers. 

The  Israelites  were  commanded  by  their  law  to  be  merciful  to  the  poor. 
The  corners  of  the  fields  were  not  to  be  reaped.  Lev.  xix,  9 ;  xxiii,  22. 
If  a  sheaf  should  be  accidentally  left  in  the  field  it  was  to  be  allowed  to 

128  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND    CUSTOMS.  [Ruth, 

remain  there.  Deut.  xxiv,  19.  This  grain  in  the  corners,  and  these  odd 
sheaves  in  the  field,  were  for  the  poor.  The  story  of  Ruth  is  a  most  beauti 
ful  illustration  of  this  law.  Reference  is  supposed  to  be  made  to  this  custom 
in  Job  xxiv,  10,  "  They  take  away  the  sheaf  from  the  hungry." 


II,  4.  Behold,  Boaz  came  from  Bethlehem,  and  said  unto  the 
reapers,  The  Lord  be  with  you.  And  they  answered  him, 
The  Lord  bless  thee. 

These  salutations  are  heard  at  this  day  in  the  East.  The  Psalmist  prays 
that  the  haters  of  Zion  may  be  like  grass  upon  the  house  tops,  and  not  like 
the  grain  which  is  reaped  in  the  harvest  field  amid  these  mutual  benedic 
tions  of  employer  and  laborer.  Psa.  cxxix,  6-8. 


II,  14.  Boaz  said  unto  her,  At  meal-time  come  thou  hither, 
and  eat  of  the  bread,  and  dip  thy  morsel  in  the  vinegar. 
And  she  sat  beside  the  reapers  :  and  he  reached  her  parched 
corn,  and  she  did  eat,  and  was  sufficed,  and  left. 

1.  Chomets — "vinegar  " — was  a  beverage  consisting  generally  of  wine  or 
strong  drink  turned  sour.     At  present  it  is  made  in  the  East  by  pouring 
water  on  grape  juice  and  leaving  it  to  ferment.      The  Nazarites  were  for 
bidden  to  drink  it.    Num.  vi,  3.      It  was  doubtless  excessive!}'  sour.  Prov. 
x,  26.     It  was  similar  to  the  posca  of  the  Romans,  which  was  a  thin  sour 
wine,  unintoxicating,  and  used  only  by  the  poor.     This  is  what  is  referred 
to  under  the  name  of  vinegar  in  the  narrative  of  the  crucifixion   of  our 
Lord.     See  Matt,  xxvii,  34,  48;  Luke  xxiii,  36;  John  xix,  29,  30. 

In  Turkey  grape  juice  is  boiled  from  four  to  five  hours,  until  it  is  reduced 
to  one  fourth  the  quantity  put  in.  This  is  called  Nardenk.  It  is  of  a  dark 
color,  has  an  agreeable  sour-sweet  taste,  is  turbid,  and  not  intoxicating.  It 
is  sometimes  used  in  the  manner  in  which  the  chomets  is  said  in  the  text  to 
be  used :  the  bread  is  dipped  into  it.  It  is  thought  by  some  to  be  the 
"vinegar"  referred  to  in  this  passage. — See  BiUioiheca  Sacra,  vol.  v,  p.  289. 

2.  The  <;  parched  corn  "  is  prepared  from  grains  of  wheat  not  yet  fully 
ripe.     These  are  sometimes  roasted  in  a  pan  or  on  an  iron  plate  ;  sometimes 
the  stalks  are  tied  in  small  bundles,  by  which  the  ears  are  held  in  a  blazing 
fire  until  roasted.     Grain  thus  parched  may  be  eaten  with  bread  or  without. 
In  Lev.  xxiii,  14,  it  is  classed  with  bread  and  with  green  ears.     Jesse  sent 
an  ephah  of  it  and  ten  loaves  of  bread  to  his  sons  in  the  army,  by  the  hand 
of  David.    1  Sam.  xvii,  17.     Abigail  took  five  measures  of  it  as  part  of  her 
present  to   David.    1  Sam.  xxv,   18.      David    also   received  it   with  other 
provision  from  the  hands  of  his  friends  when  he  was  in  want,  after  having 

Ruth.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  129 

fled  from  his  rebellious  son  Absalom.  2  Sam.  xvii,  28.  In  Lev.  ii.  14,  it  is 
called  "green  ears  of  corn  dried  by  the  fire."  It  is  a  common  article  of 
food  in  Palestine  and  in  Egypt  to  this  day. 


IT,  17.  So  she  gleaned,  in  the  field,  until  even,  and  beat  out 
that  she  had  gleaned. 

This  is  still  done  by  the  gleaners  at  the  close  of  their  day's  work,  sticks 
or  stones  being  used  as  convenient  though  rude  instruments  for  threshing 
the  grain  they  have  gathered. 


Ill,  2.  Behold,  he  winnoweth  barley  to-night  in  the  threshing 

The  evening  was  selected  not  only  because  it  was  cooler  than  the  day, 
but  because  of  the  increase  of  wind  which  enabled  the  husbandmen  to 
winnow  more  thoroughly.  For  the  Oriental  mode  of  winnowing  see  note 
on  Amos  ix,  9,  and  on  Matt,  iii,  12. 


Ill,  7.  When  Boaz  had  eaten  and  drunk,  and  his  heart  was 
merry,  he  went  to  lie  down  at  the  end  of  the  heap  of  corn. 

The  threshing  floor  being  uninclosed,  (see  note  on  Gen  1.  10,)  and  exposed 
to  robbers,  it  was  necessary  for  the  proprietor  or  some  trusty  servant  to 
keep  up  a  watch.  We  therefore  find  Boaz  taking  his  supper  and  sleeping  at 
the  end  of  the  heap  of  corn.  This  is  still  done  by  the  proprietors  of  thresh 
ing  floors  in  Palestine.  The  grain  is  carefully  watched  until  it  is  all 
threshed,  winnowed,  and  garnered. 


Ill,  9.  Spread  therefore  thy  skirt  over  thine  handmaid;  for 
thou  art  a  near  kinsman. 

1.  The  expression    "spread   thy   skirt"    imports    protection,   and  here 
signifies  protection  of  a  conjugal  character.     "When  marriages  are  solem 
nized  among  the  Jews  the  man  throws  the  skirt  of  his  talith  or  robe  over  his 
wife  and  covers  her  head  witli  it. 

2.  Goel,  "kinsman,"  is,  literally,  "one  who  redeems."     When  a  Hebrew 
was  obliged  to  sell  his  inheritance  on  account  of  poverty,  it  was  the  duty  of 
the  nearest  relative  to  redeem  it  for  him.     Lev.  xxv,  25.     Hence  the  word 
god  came  to   signify   kinsman.      The    goel  also  became   the   recipient   of 
property  which  had  been  unjustly  kept  from  a  deceased  kinsman.     Num. 
v,  6-8.     It  was  likewise  his  duty  to  avenge  the  blood  of  his  next  of  kin  by 
seeking  the  life  of  the  murderer.  Gen.  ix,  5,  6;  Num.  xxxv,  19;  2  Sara,  xiv,  7. 




Some  have  supposed  from  the  association  of  the  goel  with  marriage,  as  in 
this  history  of  Ruth,  that  it  was  his  duty  to  marry  the  widow  of  a  deceased 
kinsman:  but  according  to  Deut.  xxv,  5,  this  duty  was  only  obligatory  on 
a  brother-in-law,  which  relation  to  Ruth  was  certainly  not  sustained  bv 
Boaz.  Nor  is  there  any  evidence  that  it  was  sustained  by  the  unnamed 
kinsman  spoken  of  by  Boaz  in  verse  12.  Had  this  nearer  goel  been  a 
brother-in-law  Boaz  would  not  have  begun  by  asking  him  to  redeem  the 
property,  (Ruth  5v,  4,)  but  would  instantly  have  demanded  that  he  should 
marry  the  widow,  on  refusing  to  do  which  he  was  liable  to  judicial  disgrace. 
Deut.  xxv,  7-10.  But  in  the  case  of  the  goel  it  was  not  until  he  redeemed  the 
property  of  his  relative,  dying  without  a  son,  that  he  was  under  obligation 
to  marry  the  w  dow.  As  Winer  says,  "  The  latter  was  to  him  the  consequence 
of  the  former  and  not  the  reverse,  as  in  the  case  of  the  levir,  [brother-in-law.] 
Should  he  refuse  to  take  possession  of  the  property  lie  was  under  no  obligation 
to  marry  the  widow.  In  so  refusing  he  incurred  no  judicial  disgrace,  because 
he  did  not  fail  to  discharge  a  duty,  but  ou\y  relinquished  a  right.  The  law 
had  expressly  imposed  the  duty  of  marriage  on  the  levir  only,  and  beyond 
him  the  obligation  did  not  extend." — REALWORTERBUCH,  s.  v.  Ruth. 

Boaz  had  no  right  to  redeem  the  property  until  the  nearer  kinsman 
refused,  and  neither  he  nor  the  other  kinsman  was  under  any  obligation  to 
do  it;  but  having  once  assumed  the  redemption,  the  one  thus  exercising  his 
right  was  by  that  act  under  obligation  to  marry  the  widow. 


246.— THE  VAIL. 

Ill,  15.  Also  he  said,  Bring  the  vail 
that  thou  hast  upon  thee,  and  hold 
it.  And  when  she  held  it,  he  meas 
ured  six  measures  of  barley,  and 
laid  it  on  her. 

Milpachath,  "vail,"  is  called  mantle  in 
Isaiah  iii,  22,  and  some  lexicographers 
assert  that  this  is  its  meaning;  that  it  does 
not  signify  what  is  commonly  understood 
by  a  vail,  but  simply  a  large  outer  mantle 
or  cloak,  in  one  corner  of  which  Ruth  re 
ceived  the  barley.  Others,  however,  and 
among  them  Dr.  Kitto,  insist  that  a  vail  is 
meant;  one  made  of  strong  cotton  cloth  and 
used  for  out-door  wear. 

The  engraving  represents  a  large  vail,  or 
mantle,  which  is  worn  by  Egyptian  women 
at  the  present  day.  It  is  called  milayeh. 


247.— THE  SIGN  OF  THE  SHOE. 

IV,  7.  Now  this  was  the  manner  in  former  time  in  Israel 
concerning  redeeming  and  concerning  changing,  for  to  eon- 
firm  all  things  ;  a  man  plucked  off  his  shoe,  and  gave  it  to 
his  neighbor:  and  this  was  a  testimony  in  Israel. 

There  was  no  divine  law  ordaining  this;  it  was  simply  an  ancient  custom. 
Jt  is  not  to  be  confounded  with  the  law  in  reference  to  levirate  marriages  in 
Deut.  xxv,  7-10.  It  probably  originated  from  the  fact  that  the  right  to 
tread  the  soil  belonged  only  to  the  owner  of  it,  and  hence  the  transfer  of  a 
sandal  was  a  very  appropriate  representation  of  the  transfer  of  property. 
Allusion  to  this  custom  is  doubtless  intended  in  Psa.  Ix,  8,  "  Over  Edom 
will  I  cast  out  my  shoe ;  "  that  is,  I  will  transfer  it  to  myself.  The  custom 
was  prevalent  among  the  Indians  and  ancient  Germans,  and  is  said  still 
to  exist  in  the  East. 

I.    SAMUEL. 


I,  9.  Now  Eli  the  priest  sat  upon  a  seat  by  a  post  of  the  tem 
ple  of  the  Lord. 

In  some  parts  of  the  East  a  seat  is  placed  in  the  court-yard,  where  the 
master  of  the  house  may  sit  and  give  judgment  on  all  domestic  affairs.  This 
seat  is  usually  placed  in  some  shady  part  of  the  court,  against  a  wall  or 
column.  Thus  in  the  text,  Eli  "sat  upon  a  seat  by  a  post."  So  David  sat 
upon  a  seat  by  the  wall.  1  Sam.  xx,  25.  These  seats  probably  had  no  backs, 
and  were  therefore  placed  near  the  post  or  wall  for  support.  Thus  we  are 
told  that  Eli  fell  backward  from  his  seat  at  the  gate  and  died!  1  Sam.  iv,  18. 
The  Assyrian  monuments  have  many  representations  of  such  backless 

249.— THE  HORN. 

II  1.  Hannah  prayed,  and  said,  My  heart  rejoiceth  in  the 
Lord,  mine  horn  is  exalted  in  the  Lord. 

The  horn  is  an  emblem  of  power  and  of  dignity;  the  exaltation  of  the 
horn  therefore  expresses  elevation  of  privilege  and  honor,  and  its  depression 
represents  the  opposite.  See  also  1  Sam.  ii,  10  ;  Job  xvi,  15 ;  Psa.  Ixxv,  4,  5; 
Ixxxix,  17,  24;  xcii,  10;  cxii,  9.  The  Druse  ladies  on  Mount  Lebanon 'wear 
a  horn  as  a  part  of  their  head-dress.  These  horns  are  made  of  various 
materials  according  to  the  wealth  of  the  owner:  dough,  pasteboard,  pottery, 
tin.  silver,  and  gold.  They  vary  in  length  from  six  inches  to  two  feet  and* a 
half,  and  are  three  or  four  inches  in  diameter  at  the  base,  tapering  almost  to 
a  point.  The  vail  is  thrown  over  the  horn,  and  from  it  flows  gracefully 



[I  Samuel. 

down.  When  once  put  on,  the  horn  is  never  taken  off;  it  remains  on  the 
wearer's  head  by  day  and  at  night,  through  sickness  and  health,  even  down, 
to  death. 

It  has  been  supposed  by  many  writers  that  the  passages  above  cited  all 
refer  to  this  article  of  costume,  and  it  is  frequently  spoken  of  as  an  illustra 
tion  of  them.  It  should  be  borne  in  mind,  however,  that  some  of  the  most 
judicious  critics  deny  all  such  reference,  there  being  no  evidence  that  the 
horn  was  ever  used  by  the  Hebrews.  It  appears  rather  to  be  a  fashion  of 
comparatively  modern  date.  As  good  an  interpretation  of  the  above  pas 
sages  can  be  given  by  supposing  the  horn  to  refer  to  the  natural  weapon  of 
beasts,  and  to  be  used  in  a  figurative  sense,  as  by  imagining  it  to  refer  to  an 
artificial  ornament  for  human  beings. 


VI,  5.  "Wherefore  ye  shall  make  images  of  your  emerods, 
and.  images  of  your  mice  that  mar  the  land. 

These  were  doubtless  talismanic  figures  made  according  to  some  occult. 
laws  of  astrology.  Such  talismans  are  very  ancient.  They  were  supposed 
to  cure  diseases  and  to  ward  off  evils.  The  learned  Gregory  thinks  that 
they  originated  in  false  views  entertained  by  the  Gentiles  concerning  the 
brazen  serpent.  His  theory  is,  that  their  astrologers,  finding  that  among 
the  Israelites  the  bite  of  serpents  had  been  cured  by  the  image  of  a  serpent, 
concluded  that  all  sorts  of  evils  might  be  remedied,  provided  corresponding 
images  were  made  under  proper  astrological  conditions.  Whether  this  theory 
be  correct  or  not,  there  is  abundant  evidence  of  the  ancient  prevalence  of 
this  superstition.  It  still  exists  in  India.  Talismans,  generally  of  silver,  are 
carried  to  the  heathen  temples.  These  images  represent  as  nearly  as  may  be 
the  diseases  or  the  special  troubles  under  which  the  offerers  suffer.  It  is 

supposed  that  the  gods 
will  be  propitious  on 
seeing  them,  and  give 
the  sufferer  the  relief 
sought.  Roberts 
( Oriental  Illustrations, 
pp.  158.  159)  has  cuts 
of  some  of  these  little 
images  which  came 
into  his  possession  by 
the  gift  of  a  friend. 
We  here  insert  three 
4T.— TALISMANIC  IMAGES.  of  tliese)  representing 

a  deformed  boy,  an  infant,  a-nd  an  old  man.     Images  of  eyes,  ears,  mouth, 
nose,  and  hands  are  also  hung  up  in  the  temples. 

I  Samuel.] 



Some  commentators  suppose  that  ''the  blind  and  the  lame,"  mentioned  in 
2  Sam.  v,  6-8,  were  talismanic  images  set  up  in  the  fort  by  the  Jebusites  for 
their  protection. 


XVII,  5.  He  had  a  helmet  of  brass  upon  his  head,  and  he 
was  armed  with  a  coat  of  mail. 

1.  In  the  earliest  times  helmets  were  made  of  osier  or  rushes,  and  were 
iu  the  form  of  bi-e-liive.s  or  skull-caps.  The  skins  of  the  heads  of  animals 
were  sometimes  used.  Various  other  materials  were  employed  at  different 
times.  The  ancient  Egyptian  helmet  was  usually  made  of  linen  cloth  quilted. 
It  was  thick  and  well  padded,  sometimes  coming  down  to  the  shoulder,  and 
sometimes  only  a  little  below  the  ear.  The  cloth  used  was  colored  green,  or 
red,  or  black.  The  helmet  had  no  crest, 
but  the  summit  was  au  obtuse  point  orna 
mented  with  two  tassels.  The  Assyrian 
he' met  was  a  cap  of  iron  terminating 
above  in  a  point,  and  sometimes  furnished 
with  flaps,  covered  with  metal  scales  and 
protec'hig  the  neck.  The  Philistine  hel 
met,  as  represented  on  ancient  monu 
ments,  was  of  unique  form.  From  the 
head-band  there  arose  curved  lines,  by 
which  the  outline  of  the  helmet  was  hol 
lowed  on  the  sides  and  rounded  on  top. 
Goliath's  helmet  was  doubtless  of  this  48.— ANCIENT  HELMETS. 

shape,  and,  being  made  of  brass,  must 
have  presented  a  beautiful  appearance. 
The  form  of  the  Hebrew  helmets  is  un 
known  ;  but  they  probably  did  not  vary 
widely  from  the  Egyptian.  As  is  seen 
in  verse  38  they  were  sometimes  made 
of  brass.  The  helmet  is  also  mentioned 
in  2  Chron.  xxvi,  14 ;  Jer.  xlvi,  4 ;  Ezek. 
xxiii,  24;  xxvii,  10;  xxxviii,  5. 

2.  For  the  body,  the  skins  of  bea'sts 
were  probably  the  earliest  protection  in 
battle.  Felt  or  quilted  linen  was  also 
used  subsequently.  The  ancient  Egyp 
tians  had  horizontal  rows  of  metal 
plates  well  secured  by  brass  pins.  The 
ancient  Assyrians  had  scales  of  iron 
fastened  on  felt  or  linen.  Iron  rings 


134  BIBLE   MANNEKS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [I  Samuel. 

closely  locked  together  were  likewise  used  by  different  nations.  Scnles 
made  of  small  pieces  of  horn  or  hoof  were  also  used.  Sometimes  a  very 
serviceable  armor  was  made  of  small  platos  of  metal,  each  having  a  button 
and  a  slit,  fitting  into  the  corresponding  slit  and  button  of  the  plate  next  to 
it.  It  is  supposed  that  Ahab  had  on  armor  of  this  sort  when  lie  was  slain; 
the  "joints  of  the  harness  "  being  the  grooves  or  slits  in  the  metallic  plates, 
or  the  place  between,  where  they  did  not  overlap.  1  Kings  xxii,  34;  2  Chron. 
xviii.  33.  Goliath's  "coat  of  mail"  was  scale  armor,  (shiryon  Jcaskassim  : 
"  armor  of  scales.")  This  kind  of  armor  consisted  of  metallic  scales, 
rounded  at  the  bottom  and  squared  at  the  top,  and  sewed  on  linen  or  felt. ' 
The  Philistine  corselet  covered  the  chest  only.  On  the  bas-relief  at  Nineveh 
are  seen  warriors  with  coats  of  scale  armor  which  descend  to  the  knees  or 
ankles.  In  one  of  the  palaces  Mr.  Layard  discovered  a  number  of  the  scales 
used  for  this  armor.  Each  scale  was  of  iron  two  to  three  inches  long, 
rounded  at  one  end  and  squared  at  the  other,  with  a  raised  or  embossed  line 
in  the  center,  and  some  were  inlaid  with  copper.  At  a  later  period  the 
Assyrian  armor  was  made  of  smaller  scales,  which  were  pointed  and  orna 
mented  with  raised  figiires,  and  the  coat  of  mail  reached  no  lower  than  the 

In  several  passages  sldryon  is  rendered  in  our  version  "habergeon."  See 
2  Chron.  xxvi,  14;  Neh.  iv,  16. 

The  lorica  of  the  Komans  and  the  thorax  of' the  Greeks— rendered  "breast 
plate  "  in  Eph.  vi,  14  and  1  Thess.  v.  8— were  scale  armor  covering  breast 
and  back. 


XVII,  6.  He  had  greaves  of  brass  upon  his  legs,  and  a  target 
of  brass  between  his  shoulders. 

1.  Greaves  were  coverings  for  the  legs.     There  are  none  represented  on 
the  Egyptian  monuments,  but  they  are  seen  on  the  Assyrian  sculptures 
They  were  of  leather,  wood,  or,  as  in  the  case  of  Goliaih, 
of  brass,  and  were  bound  by  thongs  around  the  calvts 
and  above  the  ankles. 

2.  Kidon,  here  rendered  "target,"  is  translated  by  the 
word  "shield"  in  verse  45   of  this  chapter,  and  in  Job 
xxxix,   23;    "spear"  in  Josh,  viii,  18,  26;  Job  xli,   29; 
Jer.  vi,  23 ;  and  "lance  "  in  Jer  1,  42.     It  was  probably  a 
light  javelin,  which  could  be  easily  hurled  at  an  enemy. 
Some  suppose  it  to  have  been  decorated  with  a  flag,  like 
50.-.-GREAVE.        the  lances  of  the  Polish  lancers.     It  would  seem  from 
this  verse  that  when  not  in  actual  use  it  was  carried  ou  the  back;  for  this 
is  the  meaning  of  "  between  the  shoulders."     It  was  probably  slung  across 
the  shoulders  by  means  of  a  leathern  strap. 

I  Samuel.] 




XVII,  7.  The  staff  of  his  spear  was  like  a  weaver's  beam ; 
and  his  spear's  head  weighed  six  hundred  shekels  of  iron: 
and  one  bearing  a  shield  went  before  him. 

1.  The  chanith,  "spear,"  was  a  heavier  weapon  than  the  Mdon.     See  pre 
ceding  note.     The  word  is  rendered  both   "spear,"  and  "javelin."     It  was 
the  chanith  with  which  Saul  endeavored  to  strike  David,  (1  Sam.  xviii,  10,  11 ; 
xix,  9,  10,)  and  which  at  another  time  he  aimed  at  Jonathan.  1  Sam.  xx,  33. 
This  heavy  spear  had  at  its  lower  extremity  a  point  by  which  it  could  be 
stuck  into  the  ground.     It  was  in  this  way  that  the  position  of  Saul  was 
marked  while  he  lay  sleeping  in  the  camp  at  Hachilah,  his  spear  being  his 
standard.  1  Sam.  xxvi,  7.     This  lower  point  of  the  spear  was  almost  as  formi 
dable  as  the  head.     The  Arab  riders  of  to-day  sometimes  use  it  to  strike 
backward  at  pursuers,  and  it  was  with  this  "  hinder  end  of  the  spear  "  that 
Abner  killed  Asahel.     2  Sam.  ii,  23.     The  size  of  Goliath's  chanith  is  ex 
pressed  by  the  description  of  the  staff  and  of  the  head ;  the  latter  being  of 
iron,  in  contrast  to  the  brass  head  of  his  Melon,  and  to  his  brazen  helmet, 
cuirass,  and  greaves.  See  also  note  on  Jer.  xlvi,  4. 

2.  The  tsinnah,  "shield,"  was  the  largest  kind  of  shield,  and  was  designed 
to  protect  the  whole  body.     This  shield,  as  represented  on  the  Egyptian 
monuments,  was  about  five  feet  high,  with  a 

pointed  arch  above  and  square  below.  The 
great  shield  of 
the  Assyrians,  as 
is  shown  by  their 
sculptures,  was 
laller,  and  of  an 
oblong  shape,and 
sometimes  had  at 
the  top  an  inward 
curve.  The  large 
shields  were  gen 
erally  made  of 
wicker  work  or  of 
light  wood  cov 
ered  with  hides.  They  were  grasped  by  a 
handle  of  wood  or  of  leather.  Goliath  had  a 
man  to  bear  his  great  shield  before  him.  In  the 
Assyrian  sculptures  there  are  representations  of 
warriors  fighting  in  this  manner,  with  men 

before  them  holding  the  large  shields,  with  the  bottom  resting  on  the  ground, 



136  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [I  Samuel. 

thus  forming  movable  breastworks.     The  great  shields  of  the  Philistines 
seem  to  have  been  of  circular  shape. 

The  beauty  of  the  figure  used  in  Psa.  v,  12  is  heightened  by  the  fact  that 
the  tsinnah  is  the  shield  there  spoken  of.  The  Lord  uses  the  great  buckler 
for  the  protection  of  his  people. 


XVII,  13.  Carry  these  ten  cheeses  unto  the  captain  of  their 
thousand,  and  look  how  thy  brethren  fare,  and  take  their 

1.  The  cheese  used  in  the  East  is  made  up  into  small  cakes,  strongly 
salted,    soft  when   new,  but  soon  becoming  dry  and  hard.     It  is  greatly 
inferior  to  either  English  or  Dutch  cheese.     Burckhardt  speaks  of  a  kind  of 
cheese  made  of  coagulated  buttermilk,  which  is  dried  until  it  becomes  quite 
hard,  and  is  then  ground.     The  Arabs  eat  it  mixed  with  butter. 

2.  By  the  expression  "take  their  pledge,"  is  probably  meant,  Bring  some 
token  from  them  that  they  are  yet   alive   and   well.     Roberts  says   that 
among  the  Hindoos  a  person  in  a  distant  country  sends  to  those  who  dre 
interested  in  his  welfare  a  ring,  a  lock  of  hair,  or  a  piece  of  his  nail,  as  a 
"  pledge  "  of  his  health  and  prosperity. 

255.— THE  SWORD. 

XVII,  39.  David  girded  his  sword  upon  his  armor,  and  he  as 
sayed  to  go. 

The  sword  was  one  of  the  earliest  weapons  in  use.  The  Egyptian  sword 
was  short  and  straight,  two  and  a  half 
to  three  feet  long,  and  double-edged. 
The  handle  was  plain  and  hollowed  in 
the  center,  the  better  to  afford  a  firm 
grasp.  The  Hebrew  sword  probably  re- 


53.— EGYPTIAN  SWOEDS.  sembled  it. 


XVII,  40.  He  took  his  staff  in  his  hand,  and  chose  him  five 
smooth  stones  out  of  the  brook,  and  put  them  in  a  shepherd's 
bag  which  he  had,  even  in  a  scrip  ;  and  his  sling  was  in  his 

1.  The  shepherd  carries  a  staff  which  he  holds  in  the  center.  It  is  used 
not  only  as  a  support  in  climbing  hills,  but  for  the  purpose  of  beating  bushes 
and  low  brushwood  in  which  the  flocks  stray,  and  where  snakes  and  other 
reptiles  abound.  It  may  also  be  used  for  correcting  the  shepherd-dogs, 
and  keeping  them  in  subjection.  Thus  Goliath  says,  "  Am_  I  a  dog,  that 

I  Samuel.] 



them  comest  to  me  with  staves?  "  verse  43.  This  useful  accompaniment  of 
shepherd-life  is  mentioned  iu  Gen.  xxxii,  10;  Psa.  xxiii,  4;  Micah  vii,  14, 
and  in  other  passages. 

2.  The  scrip  was  a  bag  of  leather  thrown  over  the  shoulder,  and  used  by 
shepherds  and  travelers   to  carry  provision.     It  is  still  nsed  by  Eastern 
shepherds,  and  is  made  of  the  skin  of  a  kid  stripped  off  whole  and  tanned. 
This  is  the  only  passage  in  the  Old  Testament  where  it  is  mentioned,  but 
reference  is  made  to  it  in  several  places  in  the  New  Testament    Matt,  x,  10; 
Mark  vi,  8;  Luke  ix,  3;  x,  4;  xxii,  35,  36. 

3.  The  sling  was  made  of  leather,  or  of  plaited  work  of  wool,  rushes,  hair, 
or  sinews.     The  middle  part,  where  the  stone  lay,  was  called  the  cup,  (capfi,) 
because  of  its   cup-like  depression.      It  was 

wider  than  the  ends,  but  the  sling  gradually 

narrowed  toward  the  extremities,  so  that  it 

could   be  easily  handled.     In   the    Egyptian 

sling,  which  probably  was  the  same  as  the 

Hebrew,  there  was  a  loop  at  one  end  which 

was  placed  over  the  thumb,  in  order  to  retain 

the  weapon  when  the  stone  was  hurled  and 

the  other  end  became   free.     The  sling  was 

used  by  shepherds  to  keep  the  beasts  of  prey 

from  the  flock,  and  also  to  keep  the  sheep  from 

straying.      Husbandmen  likewise    used    it   to 

drive  away  birds  from  the  fields  of  corn.     In 

•war  it  was  a  formidable  weapon   in   skillful 

hands.     The  Egyptian  slinger  carried  a  bag  of 

round  stones  depending  fiom  his  shoulder,  as  David  did.     The  Assyrians, 

however,    according  to  their  sculptures,  had  lying  at  their  feet  a  heap  of 

pebbles,  which  they  picked  up  as  they  were  needed.     In  using  the  sling,  the 

stone  was  put  into  the  broad  hollowed  part,  the  ends  were  grasped  together 

in  the  hand,  and  after  a  few  whirls  around  the  head  to   give  impetus,  the 

stone  was  d:scharged,  frequently  with  force  enough  to  penetrate  helmet  or 


A  weapon  so  peculiar  in  its  formation  and  so  great  in  its  power  was 
appropriately  referred  to  as  an  illustration  of  swift  and  certain  destruction. 
Thus  Abigail  said  to  David,  "The  souls  of  thine  enemies,  them  shall  he  sling 
out,  as  out  of  the  middle  of  a  sling."  1  Sam.  xxv,  29.  Thus  the  Lord  said 
to  Jeremiah,  "  I  will  sling  out  the  inhabitants  of  the  land  at  this  once,  and 
will  distress  them."  Jer.  x,  18.  The  figure  in  both  these  passages  is  drawn, 
not  from  the  destructive  power  of  the  sling,  but  from  the  ease  and  rapidity 
with  which,  by  a  practiced  hand,  the  stone  was  hurled  from  it. 

The  Benjamites  were  so  skillful  in  the  use  of  this  weapon  that  some  of 

138  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [I  Samuel, 

them  "could  sling  stones  at  a  hair,  and  not  miss."  Judges  xx,  16.  The 
youthful  David  showed  great  skill,  since  he  hurled  the  pebble  with  such  aim 
and  force  that  it  smote  the  giant  in  the  forehead  and  brought  him  to  the 
ground.  Yerses  49,  50. 


XVIII,  4.  Jonathan  stripped  himself  of  the  robe  that  -was  up 
on  him,  and  gave  it  to  David,  and  his  garments,  even  to  his 
sword,  and  to  his  bow,  and  to  his  girdle. 

It  is  considered  in  the  East  a  special  mark  of  respect  to  be  presented  by 
a  prince  with  some  of  the  garments  he  has  for  his  own  wearing.  The  gift 
of  a  girdle  is  a  token  of  the  greatest  confidence  and  affection,  and  is  very 
highly  prized.  Joab  expressed  his  intense  desire  for  the  death  of  Absalom 
by  his  willingness  to  give  a  girdle  to  the  man  who  would  murder  him. 
2  Sam.  xviii,  11.  Morier  gives  a  curious  instance  of  the  estimation  placed 
on  the  possession  of  garments  which  had  once  covered,  and  of  weapons 
which  had  once  adorned,  the  person  of  royalty.  He  says  that  when  the 
treaty  was  made  between  Russia  and  Persia  ia  1814,  the  Persian  plenipo 
tentiary,  who  had  been  honored  by  various  gifts  of  weapons  and  clothing 
from  his  sovereign,  designated  himself  in  the  preamble  of  the  treaty  as 
"endowed  with  the  special  gifts  of  the  Monarch,  lord  of  the  dagger  set  in 
jewels,  of  the  sword  adorned  witli  gems,  and  of  the  shawl-coat  already 
worn." — Second  Journey  through  Persia,  etc.,  p.  299.  It  was  in  this  way  that 
the  shepherd-warrior  was  honored  by  Jonathan.  See  also  note  on  Esther 
vi,  8. 


XVIII,  6.  It  came  to  pass  as  they  came,  when  David  was 
returned  from  the  slaughter  of  the  Philistine,  that  the  women 
came  out  of  all  cities  of  Israel,  singing  and  dancing,  to  meet 
king  Saul,  with  tabrets,  with  joy,  and  with  instruments  of 

1.  It  was  customary  for  the  women  to  express  their  delight  in  victory  by 
pongs  and  music,  and  dancing  in  the  presence  of  the  conquerors.    See  Exod. 
xv,  20  ;  Judges  xi,  34. 

2.  Precisely  what  is  meant  by  shalishim,  which  in  our  version  is  rendered 
•'instruments  of  music,"  is  not  known.     From  the  construction  of  the  word 
there  was  evidently  a  triple  arrangement  of  some  sort  in  the  formation  of 
the  shalishim.     The  margin  of  our  English  Bibles  has  "three-stringed  instru 
ments."     They  may  have  been  harps  of  three  strings,  or  of  triangular  shape ; 
bnt  most  authorities  now  agree  in  supposing  them  to  have  been  triangles. 
These  instruments  of  percussion  are  said  to  have  originated  in  Syria,  and  if 
so  may  have  been  known  to  the  ancient  Hebrews.     They  were  well  adapted 
for  the  ringing  music  of  a  military  triumph. 

I  Samuel.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  139 


XVIIT,  7.  The  women  answered  one  another  as  they  played, 
and  said,  Saul  hath  slain  his  thousands,  and  David  his  ten 

One  part  of  the  women  probably  sang,  "Saul  hath  slain  his  thousands," 
and  the  others  responded,  "and  David  his  ten  thousands."  This  responsive 
chorus-singing  is  very  ancient.  Over  four  hundred  years  before  this  Miriam 
had  led  the  women  in  the  responsive  chorus  of  victory  on  the  occasion  uf  the 
destruction  of  Pharaoh's  army,  the  men  and  women  alternating  in  their  song. 
Kxud  xv,  21.  It  is  supposed  to  Inve  been  an  Egyptian  custom.  See  also 
Kzra  i  i,  11;  Isa.  vi,  3  ;  Rev.  iv,  8-1  1  ;  v,  9-14. 


XIX,  10.  Saul  sought  to  smite  David  even  to  the  wall  with 
the  javelin  ;  but  he  slipped  away  out  of  Saul's  presence,  and 
he  smote  the  javelin  into  the  wall  :  and  David  fled,  and  escaped 
that  night. 

According  to  an  ancient  Asiatic  custom,  when  a  dart  was  thrown  at  a  freed- 
rnan,  and  he  escaped  from  it  by  flight,  he  was  thereby  absolved  from  all 
allegiance  to  his  master.  Thus  Saul  by  his  murderous  fury  gave  complete 
liberty  to  David,  whose  subsequent  acts  of  war  against  the  king  could  not 
be  considered  rebellion.  From  that  hour  he  was  no  longer  a  subject  of  King 
gai,l.  _  See  Kirro's  Cyclopaedia  of  Biblical  Literature,  vol.  i,  p.  225. 

261.—  USE  OF  THE  TERM  NAKED. 

XIX,  24.     He  stripped  off  his  clothes  also,  and  prophesied  before 
Samuel  in  like   manner,    and  lay  down    naked  all   that  day  and 
all    that    night. 

This  does  not  mean  absolutely  without  any  clothing.  A  person  was  called 
naked  whose  outer  garments  were  ihrown  aside,  leaving  nothing  but  the 
.lure  and  girdle.  See  note  on  John  xix,  23.  Thus  Isaiah  was  naked  by 
simply  removing  his  sackcloth  mantle.  L-a.  xx,  2.  This  is  also  the  meaning 
of  "flee  away  naked"  in  Amos  ii,  16.  The  young  man  who  followed  Jesus 
at  the  time  of  his  arrest  was  probably  "naked"  in  this  sense.  Mark 
xiv,  51,  52.  Peter  was  also  "naked"  in  the  same  way  at  the  time  he  cast 
himself  into  the  sea  to  meet  the  Lord.  John  xxi,  7.  Compare  2  Sara. 

vi,  14,  20. 


XX,  80       Saul's    anger   was   kindled    against  Jonathan,  and   he 
said   unto   him,    Thou    son  of  the  perverse    rebellious   woman. 

This  is  a  favorite  Oriental  mode  of  abuse.  It  is  supposed  that  an  indignity 
offered  to  a  man's  mother  will  give  him  greater  pain  than  one  offered  to  him 
self.  "Strike  me,"  said  the  servant  of  Mungo  Park,  "but  do  not  curse  my 

140  UIHLK    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  fl  Samuel. 

mother."  Sir  W.  Ouseley  tells  of  a  man  who,  seeking  for  wiue,  put  to  his 
lips  a  bottle  of  some  nauseous  medicine,  and  immediately  cursed,  not  the  man 
who  made  the  disgusting  draught,  but  all  the  female  relatives  in  whose  wel 
fare  he  had  the  greatest  interest;  his  wives,  mother,  daughters,  and 
sisters.— BURDER,  Oriental  Customs,  No.  312.  Professor  Hackott.  having 
incautiously  approached  a  large  flock  of  sheep  for  the  purpose  of  getting  a 
better  view,  was  assailed  by  the  three  women  who  were  watching  them, 
with  "a  volley  of  words  almost  terrific."  They  cursed  his  father,  his 
mother,  his  grandfather,  and  all  his  ancestors.— Illustrations  of  Scripture 
p.  106. 


XXI,  9.  The  priest  said,  The  sword  of  Goliath  the  Philistine, 
whom  thou  slowest  in  the  valley  of  Elan,  behold,  it  is  here 
•wrapped  in  a  cloth  behind  the  ephod. 

It  is  customary  to  wrap  in  cloths  all  articles  which  are  esteemed  specially 
valuable  or  sacred.  Sacred  books  are  inclosed  in  rich  cases  of  brocade  silk 
or  costly  velvet.  Harmer  suggests  that  the  simlah,  "cloth,"  in  which  the 
sword  of  Goliath  was  wrapped,  may  have  been  a  part  of  some  magnificent 
dress  of  David. —  Observations,  vol.  ii,  p.  517. 

Money  was  sometimes  put  aside  in  a  similar  way.  The  unfaithful  servant 
laid  up  his  lord's  money  in  a  napkin,  or  handkerchief.  See  Luke  xix,  20. 


XXIV,  12.  The  Lord  judge  between  me  and  thee,  and  the 
Lord  avenge  me  of  thee:  but  mine  hand  shall  not  be  upon 

With  us  it  is  a  marked  want  of  etiquette  for  the  speaker  to  mention  him 
self  first,  especially  when  speaking  to  or  of  those  of  superior  rank  or  posi 
tion.  Chardin,  however,  says  that  among  the  Persians  it  is  customary  for  the 
speaker  to  name  himself  first.  Prom  this  text  it  seems  to  have  been  con 
sidered  perfectly  respectful  in  the  days  of  David,  and  we  have  instances 
more  ancient  still.  When  Ephron  the  Hittite  was  bargaining  with  Abraham 
for  the  sale  of  the  cave  of  Ma  ch  pel  ah  he  said,  "What  is  that  betwixt  me  and 
thee?"  Gen.  xxiii,  15.  So  also  Sarai  said  to  her  husband  Abram,  "The 
Lord  judge  between  me  and  thee."  Gen.  xvi,  5.  So  Laban  said  to  Jacob, 
"The  Lord  watch  between  me  and  thee."  Gen.  xxxi,  49. 


XXV,  1.  Samuel  died  ;  and  all  the  Israelites  were  gathered 
together,  and  lamented  him,  and  buried  him  in  his  house  at 

Some  commentators  assert  that  Samuel  was  placed  in  a  tomb  erected  in 
the  house  he  occupied  during  his  life,  or  in  its  court.  Of  this,  however,  there 

I  Samuel.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  141 

is  no  evidence.  Long  before  Samuel's  time  the  grave  was  spoken  of  as 
"the  house  appointed  for  all  living."  See  Job  xxx,  23.  So  afterward  Joab 
"  was  buried  in  his  own  house  in  the  wilderness."  1  Kings  ii,  34.  It  is 
much  more  probable  that  a  tomb  for  the  dead  should  be  called  a  house  than 
that  a  dwelling-place  built  for  the  living  should  be  used  as  a  tomb.  An 
American  missionary  in  Syria  says  that  at  Deir  el  Kamr,  on  Mount  Lebanon, 
he  found  a  number  of  small  solid  stone  buildings,  having  neither  doors  nor 
windows.  These  were  the  "  houses  of  the  dead."  It  was  necessary  to  open 
the  dead  walls  every  time  an  interment  took  place. — JOWETT'S  Researches, 
p.  207. 

In  India  it  is  quite  common  to  build  a  house  in  a  retired  place  over  the 
remains  of  the  dead,  where  also  the  rest  of  the  family,  when  they  die,  are 
interred.  In  some  of  these  houses  the  funeral  car,  or  palanquin  in  which  the 
body  was  borne  to  its  burial,  is  suspended  from  the  ceiling.  Great  pains  are 
taken  to  keep  these  houses  of  the  dead  in  good  repair,  and  some  of  them 
are  built  in  a  most  magnificent  manner. 


XXVI,  11.  Take  thou  now  the  spear  that  is  at  his  bolster,  and 
the  eruse  of  water,  and  let  us  go. 

1.  The  spear  here  spoken  of  is  the  clianith,  already  described  in  the  note 
on  chap,  xvii,  7.     In  the  Arab  encampments  of  the  present  day  the  sheikh's 
tent  is  always  recognized  by  a  tall  spear  stuck  in  the  ground  in  front  of  it; 
and  the  place  where  the  sheikh  reclines  to  rest  when  halting  on  a  march  is 
designated  in  like  manner. 

2.  It  is  not  known  what  was  the  precise  shape  of  the  cruse,  (teappachath,) 
or  the  material  of  which  it  consisted.     Some  suppose  it  to  have  been  made 
of  iron  plates  shaped  like  a  shallow  cup  or  bowl.     The  vessel  at  present 
used  in  the  East  for  the  purposes  of  a  cruse  or  flask  is  globular  in  shape, 
and  is  made  of  blue  porous  clay.     It  is  nine  inches  in  diameter,  with  a  neck 
three  inches  long.     At  the  lower  part  is  a  small  handle,  and  opposite  is  a 
straight  spout  having  an  orifice  about  the  size  of  a  straw,  through   which 
water  is  sucked.     The  tsappachath  is  spoken  of  in  the  Bible  as  a  receptacle 
for  oil,  (1  Kings  xvii,  12,)  and  also  for  water.     See  text  and  1  Kings  xix,  6. 

The  "  cruse  "  mentioned  in  1  Kings  xiv,  3,  and  the  one  in  2  Kings  «,  20, 
are  different  vessels  from  the  cruse  of  this  text,  and  the  words  themselves 
are  different  in  the  original.  See  notes  on  those  passa, 



[II  Samuel. 

II.     SAMUEL. 

267.— ARMLETS. 
I,  10.     I   took  .  .  .  the  bracelet  that  was  on  his  arm. 

Etsadah,  "bracelet,"  is,  according  to  Gesenius,  more  properly  an  anklet  than 
a  bracelet ;  yet  as  it  is  here  spoken  of  in  connection  with  the  arm  it  doubt 
less  means  an  armlet.  The  word  occurs  also 
in  Num.  xxxi,  50,  where  it  is  associated  with 
tsamid,  (bracelet,)  and  is  rendered  "  chains.'' 
Saul's  armlet  is  supposed  to  have  been  a  part 
of  the  insignia  of  his  royalty.  Egyptian  mon- 
archs  are  often  represented  on  the  monuments 
wearing  armlets  and  bracelets.  The  Persian 
kings  often  wore  them,  and  they  are  still  com 
mon  among  Oriental  sovereigns,  many  of  them 
being  elaborately  wrought  and  richly  orna 
mented  with  jewels.  From  Sol.  Song  viii,  6,  it 
appears  that  the  signet  was  sometimes  placed 

in  the  armlet:  "As  a  seal  upon  thine  arm." 


Ill,  27.  Joab  took  him  aside  in  the  gate  to  speak  with  him 

The  expression  "  in  the  gate,"  is  literally  in  the  midst  of  the  gate,  and 
probably  refers  to  some  dark  corner  in  the  vaulted  gateway  where  two 
persons  might  retire  and  converse  unseen.  To  some  such  recess  Joab 
invited  Abner,  avowedly  for  conversation,  but  really  to  kill  him. 

269.— BEDS  FOR  BIERS. 

Ill,  31.  Rend  your  clothes,  and  gird  you  with  sackcloth,  and 
mourn  before  Abner.  And  king  David  himself  followed  the 

Mittah,  "bier,"  would  be  better  rendered  by  bed.  Persons  of  distinction 
were  sometimes  carried  to  the  grave  on  their  beds.  Josephas  describes  mi 
nutely  the  preparations  which  were  made  by  Archelaus  for  tne  funeral  of  his 
father  Herod.  The  body  was  placed  on  a  gilded  bed,  which  was  richly 
adorned  with  precious  stones. — Antiquities,  book  xvii,  chapter  8,  §  3. 


Ill,  34.    Thy  hands  were  not  bound,  nor  thy  feet  put  into  fetters. 

Strigelius  supposes  that  David  meant,  by  using  this  language,  to  distinguish 

Abner  from  those  criminals  who  are  carried  to  execution  with  their  hands 


ried  behind  them  ;  and  from  soldiers  who  are  taken  captive  in  war,  and  have 
their  feet  fastened  by  fetters  to  prevent  their  running  away. 
For  a  description  of  fetters  see  note  on  2  Kings  xxv,  7. 


IV,  6.  They  came  thither  into  the  midst  of  the  house,  as  though 
they  would  have  fetched  wheat. 

Harmer  (Observations,  vol.  i,  p.  435)  suggests  that  the  pretense  of  these 
men  that  they  went  into  the  house  for  wheat,  was  rendered  plausible  by  the 
fact  that  it  was  necessary  to  obtain  the  grain  in  the  afternoon  in  order  to 
have  it  ready  for  grinding  early  the  next  morning,  according  to  daily  custom. 
All  suspicion  of  their  murderous  intention  was  thus  avoided.  Ishbosheth 
was  taking  his  usual  daily  nap  after  the  noon  meal,  (verse  5.)  They  went 
toward  the  place  where  the  grain  was  stored,  and  thus  gained  access  to  the 
apartment  of  the  sleeping  king  and  murdered  him. 


VI  5  David  and  all  the  house  of  Israel  played  before  the 
Lord  on  all  manner  of  instruments  made  of  fir  wood,  even  oi~ 
.  .  .  cornets. 

This  is  the  only  place  where  the  word  menaanim  appears. 
The  instrument  it  represents  bore  no  resemblance  to  a  cor 
net  or  to  any  other  wind  instrument.  Gesenius  describes  it 
as  "a  musical  instrument  or  rattle,  which  gave  a  tinkling 
s^mid  on  being  shaken."  He  supposes  it  to  have  been  the 
ancient  sistrum.  Other  authorities  agree  with  this  inter 
pretation,  though  some  discard  it.  The  sistrum  was  used 
in  the  worship  of  the  ancient  Egyptians.  It  was  "  generally 
from  eight  to  sixteen  or  eighteen  inches  in  length,  and  en 
tirely  of  bronze  or  brass.  It  was  sometimes  inlaid  with 
silveiyilt,  or  otherwise  ornamented,  and,  being  held  upright, 
was  shaken,  the  rings  moving  to  and  fro  upon  the  brass." 

-  KlTTO. 

The  other  instruments  named  in  this  verse  are  described  in 
other  places.  See  Index.  SG.-SISTEUM. 

273.—  THE  BEARD  CUT  OFF. 

X  4.  Wherefore  Hanun  took  David's  servants,  and  shaved  off 
the  one  half  of  their  beards. 

According  to  Oriental  sentiment  a  greater  indignity  could  not  have  been 
put  upon  them.  Ths  beard  is  considered  a  symbol  of  manhood,  arid,  in  some 
places,  of  freedom—  slaves  being  compelled  to  shave  their  beards  in  token  c  f 
servitude.  By  shaving  half  their  beard  Hanun  not  only  treated  David's 

144  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [II  Samuel. 

embassadors  with  contempt,  but  made  them  objects  of  ridicule.  The  beard 
is  usually  kept  with  care  and  neatness;  and  thus  when  David  feigned  mad 
ness  in  the  presence  of  Achisli,  king  of  G-ath,  he  "  let  his  spittle  fall  down 
upon  his  beard,"  which  convinced  the  beholders  that  he  must  be  bereft  of 
his  senses.  1  Sam.  xxi,  13.  So  disgraceful  is  it  considered  to  have  the 
beard  cut  off,  that  some  of  the  Orientals  would  prefer  death  to  such  a 
punishment.  Niebuhr,  in  his  Description  of  Arabia,  relates  that  in  the  year 
1764,  Kerim  Kahn,  one  of  the  three  rebels  who  at  that  time  desired  to 
obtain  dominion  over  Persia,  sent  embassadors  to  Mir  Mahenna,  the  prince 
of  a  little  independent  territory  on  the  Persian  Gulf,  to  demand  a  large 
tribute,  and  threatened  to  come  to  him  with  his  army  if  he  did  not  conduct 
himself  as  an  obedient  subject.  Mahenna,  however,  treated  the  embassadors 
with  great  contempt,  which  was  especially  marked  in  cutting  off  their 
beards.  Upon  hearing  of  this,  Kerim  Kahn  was  so  indignant  that  he  sent 
a  large  army  which  subdued  the  territory. 


XI,  1.  It  came  to  pass,  after  the  year  was  expired,  at  the  time 
•when  kings  go  forth. 

"  After  the  year  was  expired  "  is  literally  "at  the  return  of  the  year,"  thai 
is,  in  the  spring.  This  was  the  time  of  the  year  for  the  commencement  01 
renewal  of  military  movements,  the  season  for  severe  storms  being  over. 


XI,  2.    It    came    to    pass   in   an   eveningtide,     that    David    arose 
from    off   his    bed,    and    walked     upon    the    roof  of    the    king's 
house  :  and  from  the  roof  he  saw  a  woman  washing  herself. 

1.  After  his  customary  afternoon  rest  had  been  taken,  David  walked  on 
the  flat  roof  of  his  palace.     In  the  cool  of  the  evening  the  roofs  of  the  houses 
are  occupied  by  family  groups  who  go  there  for  air  and  exercise.     In  Dan. 
iv,  29  we  have  an  account  of  the  walk  of  another  king.     Instead  of  walked  in 
the  palace,   the  marginal   reading  is,   upon  the   palace.     It    was   on   the 
roof  that  Nebuchadnezzar  walked,  and  from  there  he  obtained  that  view  of 
his  great  city  which  lifted  his  heart  with  pride  and  made  him  forget  God. 

2.  The  bath  in  which  Bathsheba  was  washing  was  in  the  court-yard, 
secluded  from   all  ordinary  observation,   but  yet  visible  from    the   palace 


XII,  3.     It  grew   up  together  with  him,  and  with   his   children  ; 
it  did  eat  of  his   own   meat,    and    drank   of    his    own    cup,  and 
lay  in  his  bosom,  and  was  unto  him  as  a  daughter. 

There  is  a  beautiful  touch  of  nature  about  this ;  for  though  uttered  in  a 
parable  the  words  are  in  truthful  accordance  with  Eastern  manners. 

n  Samuel.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  145 

Bochart  says  that  anciently  not  only  lambs,  but  other  animals,  were  by  many 
persons  allowed  to  eat  with  them  at  their  tables,  and  to  lie  with  them  in 
their  beds.  The  Arabs  of  to-day  keep  pet-lambs  as  we  keep  lap-dogs. 


XII,  21.  Then  said  his  servants  unto  him,  "What  thing  is  this 
that  thou  hast  done  ?  thou  didst  fast  and  weep  for  the  child, 
while  it  was  alive  ;  but  when  the  child  was  dead,  thou  didst 
rise  and  eat  bread. 

What  astonished  the  servants  of  David  was,  that  their  master  should  act 
so  contrary  to  old-established  customs  of  mourning  in  time  of  bereavement. 
Sir  John  Chardin  says.  "  The  practice  of  the  East  is  to  leave  a  relation  of 
the  deceased  person  to  weep  and  mourn,  till  on  the  third  or  fourth  day  at 
furthest  the  relatives  and  friends  go  to  see  him,  cause  him  to  eat,  lead  him 
to  a  bath,  and  cause  him  to  put  on  new  vestments,  he  having  before  thrown 
himself  on  the  ground." — HARMER,  Observations,  vol.  iv,  p.  424.  David,  on 
the  contrary,  changed  his  apparel  and  ate  food  as  soon  as  he  learned  of  the 
death  of  the  boy. 


XV,  80.  David  went  up  by  the  ascent  of  mount  Olivet,  and 
wept  as  he  went  up,  and  had  his  head  covered,  and  he  went 
up  barefoot. 

Covering  the  head,  as  well  as  uncovering  the  feet,  (see  note  on  Deut.  xxv,  10,) 
was  a  token  of  great  distress.  It  was  probably  done  by  drawing  a  fold 
of  the  outer  garment  over  the  head.  "When  Haman  mourned  over  his  great 
discomfiture  his  head  was  covered.  Esther  vi,  12.  Jeremiah  pathetically 
represents  the  plowmen  as  mourning  in  this  way  because  of  the  severe 
drought.  "Because  the  ground  is  chapped,  for  there  was  no  rain  in  the 
earth,  the  plowmen  were  ashamed,  they  covered  their  heads."  Jer.  xiv.  4. 

279.— EARTH  ON  THE  HEAD. 

XV,  82.  Hushai  the  Arehite  came  to  meet  him  with  his  coat 
rent,  and  earth  upon  his  head. 

His  rent  coat  signified  mourning,  (see  note  on  Gen.  xxxvii,  34,)  as  did 
also  the  earth  on  his  head.  In  the  British  Museum  is  a  tombstone  from 
Abydos,  on  which  is  a  representation  of  a  funeral  procession,  the  mourners 
in  which  show  their  grief  by  throwing  dust  on  their  heads.  There  was  au 
ancient  tradition  among  the  Egyptians  that,  in  the  infancy  of  their  history  as 
a  people,  their  god  Nonm  had  taught  their  fathers  that  they  were  but  clay  or 
dust.  The  praciice  of  putting  dust  on  their  heads  is  supposed  to  have  been 
originally  designed  to  be  symbolical  of  their  origin  from  dust,  and  to  convey 
the  idea  of  their  humility  in  view  of  that  fact.  We  find  frequent  scriptural 
reference  to  the  custom.  When  the  Israelites  were  defeated  at  Ai,  Joshiu 

146  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [II Samuel, 

and  the  elders  "put  dust  upon  their  heads.''  Josh.  v;i,  6.  The  Benjamite 
who  brought  to  Eli  the  news  of  the  death  of  his  sons  came  to  Shiloh  "with 
earth  upon  his  head."  1  Sam.  iv,  12.  The  young  Amalekite  who  brought  to 
David  the  tidings  of  Saul's  death  had  "earth  upon  his  head."  2  Sam.  i,  2. 
Tamar,  dishonored,  "put  ashes  on  her  head."  2  Sam.  xiii,  19.  In  the  great 
fast  which  was  held  in  Nehemiah's  time  in  Jerusalem,  the  children  of 
Israel  had  "  earth  upon  them."  Neh.  ix,  1.  When  Job's  three  friends  mourned 
with  him  in  his  great  troubles,  they  "  sprinkled  dust  upon  their  heads  to 
ward  heaven."  Job  ii,  12.  This  shows  the  great  antiquity  of  the  practice. 
Jeremiah,  in  lamenting  over  the  desolations  of  Zion,  s;iys  that  the  elders 
"have  cast  up  dust  upon  their  heads."  Lam.  ii,  10.  Ezekiel,  in  predicting 
the  destruction  of  Tyrian  commerce,  represents  the  sailors  as  casting  up 
"dust  upon  their  heads."  Ezek.  xxvii,  30.  See  also  Rev.  xviii,  19. 


XVI,  13.  As  David  and  his  men  went  by  the  way,  Shimei 
went  along  on  the  hill's  side  over  against  him,  and  cursed 
as  he  went,  and  threw  stones  at  him,  and  east  dust. 

Throwing  dust  at  a  person  is  an  Oriental  mode  of  expressing  anger  and 
contempt.  In  addition  to  the  instance  here  given  we  find  another  in  the 
history  of  Paul.  The  mob  whom  he  addressed  in  Jerusalem  became  very 
much  excited  at  his  speech  and  sought  to  destroy  him,  declaring  tr  at  he  was 
not  fit  to  live,  and  as  evidence  of  their  fury  they  "threw  dust  into  the  air." 
Acts  xxii,  23.  The  precise  meaning  of  this  symbolic  action  we  do  not  know. 
There  may,  however,  be  some  connection  between  this  custom  and  the  prac 
tice  of  persons  in  trouble  putting  dust  on  their  own  heads  in  token  of  grief. 
See  the  preceding  note.  Throwing  dust  at  others  may  be  a  symbolic  mode 
of  wishing  them  such  trouble  and  grief  that  they  may  feel  like  covering 
themselves  with  dust,  as  an  expression  of  their  sorrow. 


XVII,  18,  19.  But  they  went  both  of  them  away  quickly,  and 
came  to  a  man's  house  in  Bahurim,  which  had  a  well  in  his 
court;  whither  they  went  down.  And  the  woman  took  and 
spread  a  covering  over  the  well's  mouth,  and  spread  ground 
corn  thereon  ;  and  the  thing  was  not  known. 

The  well  (beer)  here  spoken  of  was  not  a  living  fountain,  but  simply  a  cis 
tern  or  reservoir  dug  in  the  court-yard,  as  is  often  the  case  in  the  East  at 
the  present  day.  Such  cisterns  sometimes  become  dry,  and  then  make  ex 
cellent  hiding-places  for  fugitives.  The  mouth  being  on  a  level  with  the 
ground,  could  be  easily  covered  by  a  mat  or  some  other  article,  and  the  corn 
being  spread  over  this,  suspicion  would  be  disarmed.  For  description  of  the 
"court,"  see  note  on  Esther  i,  5. 

n  Samuel.]  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  147 


XVIII,  24.  David  sat  between  the  two  gates  :  and  the  watch 
man  went  up  to  the  roof  over  the  gate. 

At  the  gateways  of  walled  cities  special  care  was  taken  to  increase  the 
strength  of  the  wall  and  the  power  of  resistance,  since  the  most  formidable 
attacks  of  the  enemy  would  probably  be  made  there.  The  ordinary  thick 
ness  of  wall  not  being  sufficient  it  was  here  widened,  or,  more  properly, 
doubled.  Considerable  space  was  included  between  the  outer  and  the  inner 
wall,  and  to  each  of  these  walls  there  was  a  gate.  It  was  in  the  room  thus 
made  that  "David  sat  between  the  two  gates." 


XVIII,  26.  The  watchman  saw  another  man  running  :  and 
the  watchman  called  unto  the  porter. 

1.  Even  strong  walls  and  double  gates  would  not  of  themselves  secure  a 
city  from  the  enemy.     Men  were  therefore  employed  to  watch  day  and  night 
on  the  top  of  the  walls,  and  especially  by  the  gates.     It  was  thus  that  the 
messengers  from  the  army  were  seen  long  before  they  reached  the  place 
where  David  anxiously  sat.     In  like  manner  the  watchman  of  Jezreel  saw  in 
the  distance  the  company  of   Jehu    driving  furiously.    2  Kings  ix,  17-20. 
So   Isaiah   in   one    of  his   sublime   visions  saw  a  watchman  standing  by. 
his  tower  day  and  night.  Isa.  xxi,  5-12.     A  figurative  use  of  the   watch 
man  and  his  work  is  beautifully  made  in  Isa.  Ixi1,  6 ;   Ezek.  xxxiii,  2,  6,  7 ; 
Hab.  ii,  1. 

2.  It  was  the  business  of  the  porter  to  open  and  shut  the  gates  at  the 
proper  time.     In  this  case  the  porter,  being  in  a  convenient  position  beiow, 
could   receive    the   intelligence  from  the  watchman  above   and  communi 
cate  the  same  to  David.     In  2  Kings  vii,  10  this  officer  is  called  "the  porter 
of  the  city."     Porters  are  spoken  of  in  connection  with  the  rebuilding  of  the 
walls  by  Nehemiah.  Neh.  vii,  1.     In  Solomon's  Temple  there  were  four  thou 
sand  of  them,  (1  Chron.  xxiii,  5,)  who  were  divided  into  courses,  (2  Chron. 
viii,  14,)  and  had  their  posts  assigned  by  lot.  1  Chron.  xxvi,  13. 


XVIII,  88.  The  king  was  much  moved,  and  went  up  to  the 
cnamber  over  the  gate,  and  wept. 

This  chamber  was  a  second  story,  which  was  built  over  the  room  referred 
to  in  the  note  on  verse  24,  arid  corresponded  to  it  in  size.  It  communicated 
with  it  by  a  stairway,  and  David  retired  there  that  he  might  have  greater 
privacy  in  his  grief.  It  was  on  the  roof  above  this,  which  was  a  higher 
point  of  observation  than  the  ordinary  height  of  the  wall,  that  the  watchman 
Siood  when  he  saw  the  messengers  coming.  Verse  24. 

148  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.          [II  Samuel. 


XIX,  4.  The  king  covered  his  face,  and.  the  king  cried  with  a 
loud  voice,  O  my  son  Absalom  !  O  Absalom,  my  son,  my  son  ! 

Though  concealed  from  sight  in  the  upper  chamber,  the  lamentations  of 
the  bereaved  king  could  be  easily  heard  by  his  followers,  for  he  "  cried  with 
a  loud  voice."  These  loud  exclamations  are  alluded  to  in  several  other 
places.  At  Jacob's  funeral  there  was  "a  great  and  very  sore  lamentation." 
Gen.  1,  10,  Whea  Jephthah,  after  his  vow,  saw  his  daughter  coining,  he 
cried,  as  if  she  were  already  dead,  "Alas,  my  daughter!"  Judges  xi,  35. 
When  the  old  prophet  of  Bethel  buried  in  his  own  grave  the  disobedient 
prophet  whom  he  had  deceived  to  his  death,  he  cried  out,  -  Alas,  my 
brother  1"  1  Kings  xiii,  30.  It  was  among  the  curses  heaped  on  Jelioiakim 
that  he  should  have  "the  burial  of  an  ass,"  and  not  be  consigned  to 
the  grave  with  the  usual  lamentations.  "Therefore  thus  saith  the  Lord 
concerning  Jehoiakim  the  son  of  Josiah  king  of  Judah ;  They  shall  not 
lament  for  him,  saying,  Ah  my  brother!  or,  Ah  sister!  they  shall  not  lament 
for  him,  saying,  Ah  lord!  or,  Ah  his  glory!"  Jer.  xxii,  18.  Somewhat 
similar  to  these  are  the  cries  of  the  Egyptian  mourners  at  the  present  time. 
"When  the  master  of  a  house  dies,  the  wives,  children,  and  servants  cry  out, 
"0  my  master!"  "0  my  camel!"  "0  my  lion!"  "0  camel  of  the  house  !" 
"0  my  glory  I  "  "  0  my  resource  !  "  "0  my  father !  "  "  0  my  misfortune  1" 
— LANE'S  Modern  Egyptians,  vol.  ii,  p.  318. 

Roberts,  in  his  Oriental  Illustrations,  pp.  23G-241,  gives  a  number  of 
striking  specimens  of  Hindoo  lamentations  over  the  dead.  Among  them 
are  the  expressions  of  grief  uttered  by  a  husband  on  the  loss  of  his  wife: 
"  What,  the  apple  of  my  eye  gone !  my  swan,  my  parrot,  my  deer,  ray 
Lechimy!  Her  color  was  like  gold;  her  gait  was  like  the  stately  swan; 
her  waist  was  like  lightning ;  her  teeth  were  like  pearls ;  her  eyes  like  the 
kiyal-fish  (oval) ;  her  eyebrows  like  the  bow ;  and  her  countenance  like  the 
full-blown  lotus.  Yes,  she  has  gone,  the  mother  of  my  children  !  No  more 
welcome,  no  more  smiles  in  the  evening  when  I  return.  All  the  world  to 
me  is  now  as  the  place  of  burning.  Get  ready  the  wood  for  my  pile.  0  my 
wife,  my  wife!  listen  to  the  voice  of  your  husband." 

A  father  also  says  over  the  body  of  his  son,  "  My  son,  my  son  !  art  thou 
gone  ?  What  I  am  I  left  in  my  old  age  ?  My  lion,  my  arrow,  my  blood,  my 
body,  my  soul,  my  third  eye  !  Gone,  gone,  gone  !  " 


XIX,  18.  There  went  over  a  ferry-boat  to  carry  over  the  king's 

This  is  the  only  passage  where  a  ferry-boat  is  named,  and  some  critics  think 
that  a  mere  crossing  of  a  ford  is  meant.  The  Hebrews  could  not  have  been 

n  Samuel.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  149 

ignorant  of  the  use  of  boats,  since  they  were  employed  by  the  Egyptians,  as 
is  evident  from  the  monuments.  The  king's  servants  may  have  used  rafta 
or  flat-bottomed  boats,  for  conveying  his  household  over  the  river.  See,  fur 
ther,  the  note  on  Isaiah  xviii,  2. 


XX,  7.  There  went  out  after  him  Joab's  men,  and.  the  Chere- 
thites,  and.  the  Pelethites,  and.  all  the  mighty  men. 

Commentators  and  philologists  are  divided  in  the  interpretation  of  these 
terms.  Lakemacher  was  the  tirst  to  advance  the  idea  that  the  Crethi  and 
the  Plethi  were  Philistine  soldiers  whom  David  had  enlisted  in  his  army. 
This  opinion  was  adopted  by  Ewald,  and  has  since  been  agreed  to  by  many 
eminent  scholars  arid  theologi.-ms,  and  is  the  view  taken  by  Fuerst  in  his 
Hebrew  Lexicon.  On  the  other  hand,  others,  equally  eminent,  contend  that 
David  would  not  have  employed  foreign  soldiers  as  his  body  guard,  as  it  is 
evident  the  Crethi  and  the  Plethi  were.  Compare  2  Sam.  xx,  23,  with  xxiii,  23. 
Some,  however,  attempt  to  meet  this  objection  by  supposing  that  they  were 
Israelites  who,  from  a  lengthy  residence  in  foreign  parts,  had  attracted  to  them 
selves  a  foreign  name.  See  PAIRBAIRN'S  Imp.  Bib.  Diet.,  s.  v.  Cherethites. 
Gesenius  defines  the  Orethi  to  be  executioners,  and  the  Pkthi  runners  or  cou 
riers  ;  the  duty  of  the  former  being  to  administer  capital  punishment,  and  of 
the  latter  to  convey  the  king's  orders  wherever  he  chose  to  send  them. 
Benaiah,  who  commanded  them,  (verse  23,)  held  an  office  similar  to  that  of 
Potiphar  under  Pharaoh,  (Gen.  xxxvii,  86,)  and  Arioch  under  Nebuchadnez 
zar.  Dan.  ii,  14. 


XX,  9.  Joab  said  to  Amasa,  Art  thou  in  health,  my  brother? 
And  Joab  took  Amasa  by  the  beard  with  the  right  hand  to 
kiss  him. 

To  touch  the  benrd  of  another  was  an  insult,  unless  done  as  an  act  of 
friendship  and  a  token  of  respect.  Joab  therefore  showed  the  base  treachery 
of  his  heart  by  coming  to  Amasa  in  tlte  manner  of  a  friend,  thus  entirely 
concealing  his  murderous  intent.  He  inquired  after  his  health,  gently 
touched  his  beard  as  if  to  give  a  kis-,  and  then  suddenly  grasped  it  with 
his  right  hand  and  quickly  stabbed  the  unsuspecting  Amasa  with  the 
unnoticed  sword  which  he  held  in  his  led. 


XXII,  6.  The  sorrows  of  hell  compassed  me  about ;  the 
snares  of  death  prevented  me. 

The  margin  has  "cords,"  instead  of  sorrows,  which  is  a  better  rendering, 
because  more  consistent  with  tlie  figure  employed  in  the  text.     The  allusion 

150  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [II  Samuel. 

is  to  an  ancient  mode  of  hunting,  still  in  use.  A  certain  tract  of  land,  where 
wild  beasts  are  known  to  be,  is  surrounded  by  a  circle  of  nets,  which  is 
gradually  contracted  as  the  animals  are  driven  in,  until  they  are  all  brought 
to  one  common  center,  when  escape  is  impossible.  Similar  reference  is 
made  in  Psa.  xviii,  5  ;  cxvi,  3;  Isa.  li,  20.  Representations  of  this  mode  of 
hunting  are  found  on  the  Egyptian  and  Assyrian  monuments. 


29O.  —  THE    PIPE. 

1,40.  The  people  piped  with  pipes,  and  rejoiced  with  great  joy. 
The  pipe  was  one  of  the  most  ancient,  as  it  was  one  of  the  simplest,  of 
instruments.  It  was  originally  merely  a  reed  with  holes  perforated  at 
certain  distances,  whence  it  derived  its  Hebrew  name,  chalil:  bored  through. 
As  its  use  became  more  general  it  was  made  with  greater  care,  and  some 
times  of  other  materials,  such  as  brass,  box-wood,  horn,  bone,  or  ivory. 
Sometimes  a  double  pipe  was  used,  one  part  being  played  with  the  right 
hand  and  the  other  with  the  left,  and  both  uniting  at  the  mouth-piece. 
The  pipe  was  used  for  seasons  of  merriment  or  of  joy.  See  1  Sam.  x,  5 ; 
Isa.  v,  12  ;  Luke  vii,  32.  It  also  served  to  enliven  the  journeys  to  the 
great  feasts,  (Isa.  xxx,  29,)  as  music  is  now  used  in  the  East  to  entertain  great 
companies  of  travelers.  Sometimes,  by  reason  of  its  soft  wailing  tones,  it 
was  used  at  funerals.  Jer.  xlviii,  36;  Matt,  ix,  23. 

291.— THE  ASYLUM. 

I,  50.    Adonijah    feared    because    of   Solomon,   and   arose,    and 
went,  and  caught  hold  on   the  horns   of  the  altar. 

The  right  of  asylum  in  sacred  places  was  common  to  all  nations,  and 
though  nowhere  formally  declared  in  the  Mosaic  law,  it  was  clearly  recog 
nized,  as  is  evident  from  Exod.  xxi,  14,  where  it  is  directed  to  be  re 
fused  under  certain  extreme  circumstances.  It  would  seem  from  the  text, 
and  also  from  chapter  ii,  28,  that  if  an  accused  person  could  take  hold  of  the 
horns  of  the  altar  he  was  safe  unless  his  crime  were  of  a  peculiarly  glaring 
character.  The  "  Cities  of  Refuge  "  were  appointed  for  a  similar  purpose. 
See  Numbers  xxxv,  15-32. 


II,  10.    So  David  slept  with  his  fathers,  and  was  buried    in    the 
City  of  David. 

This  was  a  departure  from  the  ordinary  custom,  as  the  dead  were  usually 
buried  outside  the  cities.  It  was  therefore  a  mark  of  high  honor  to  the 

1  Kings.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  151 

remains  of  the  departed  king  that  he  was  buried  within  the  city  ;  the  strong 
hold  of  Zion  which  was  called  after  his  name.  Here,  also,  Solomon  was 
afterward  buried.  1  Kings  xi,  43.  Aliaz  was  likewise  buried  in  the  city, 
though  not  in  the  tomb  of  the  kings.  2  Chron.  xxviii,  27.  Hezekiah,  his 
son,  was  buried  "  in  the  chiefest  of  the  sepulchers  of  the  sons  of  David." 

2  Chron.  xxxii,   33.     Manasseh,  who  succeeded   him,   and   Amon,  his  son, 
were  both  buried  in  Jerusalem,  in  the  garden  of  Uzza.  2  Kings  xxi,  18,  26. 

The  sepulcher  of  David  was  known  in  apostolic  times.  Acts  ii,  29.  Its 
location  is  pointed  out  in  the  present  day  on  the  southern  hill  of  Jerusalem, 
commonly  called  Mount  Zion,  under  the  Mosque  of  David.  It  is  jealously 
guarded  by  Mohammedans  from  all  intrusion.  Dr.  Barclay  thinks  that  "  the 
Tomb  of  David  is  several  hundred  yards  east  of  the  traditional  locality." 
—  City  of  the  Great  King,  p.  215. 

293.— FODDER. 

IV,  28.    Barley  also  and  straw  for  the  horses  and  dromedaries. 
Barley  was  the  usual  fodder  for  cattle.      They  were  also   fed   with  a 

mixture  of  chopped  straw,  barley,  beans,  and  pounded  date  kernels. 

294.— RAFTS. 

V,  9.    I   will   convey    them    by    sea   in  floats  unto  the  place  that 
thou  shalt  appoint  me. 

See  also  2  Chron.  ii,  16.  These  are  what  we  call  rafts,  consisting  of  a 
number  of  planks  fastened  together  and  launched  upon  the  water.  The 
practice  is  an  ancient  on<>,  and  it  is  said  that  the  earliest  boats  were  nothing 
more  than  mere  rafts  made  in  this  way,  though  there  is  another  form  of  raft 
that  is  very  ancient.  See  note  on  Isa.  xviii,  2. 


VI,  2.    The    house   which  king   Solomon  built  for  the  Lord,   the 
length    thereof  was    threescore   cubits,  and  the  breadth    thereof 
twenty  cubits,  and  the   height  thereof  thirty  cubits. 

The  idea  of  the  temple  did  not  originate  with  Solomon,  but  with  David, 
who  was  not  permitted  to  carry  out  his  intention  because  he  had  been  a  man 
of  war.  ]  Chron.  xxviii,  '2.  3.  God  gave  him  a  plan  for  the  temple,  as  he 
had  previously  given  Moses  the  plan  for  the  tabernacle.  This  plan  David 
communicated  to  Solomon,  directing  him  to  erect  the  building.  1  Chron. 
xxviii,  11-19. 

It  was  built  on  Mount  Moriah,  on  the  site  of  the  altar  which  David 
erected  on  the  threshing  floor  of  Araunah  the  Jebusite.  2  Sam.  xxiv,  21-25; 
2  Chron.  'in,  1.  It  stood  on  the  boundary  line  of  Judah  and  Benjamin. 
According  to  Jewish  authorities,  the  greater  space  of  the  courts  was  in 
Judah,  but  the  temple  and  altar  were  in  Benjamin.  The  hill  being  uneven, 

152  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [I  Kings. 

the  top  was  leveled,  and  walls  were  built  on  the  sloping  sides  up  to  a  level 
with  the  summit,  the  intervening  apace  being  filled  partly  with  vaults  and 
partly  with  earth. 

The  temple  had  the  same  general  arrangements  as  the  tabernacle,  being 
designed  for  the  same  purpose ;  the  difference  between  the  two  structures 
being  mainly  such  as  would  be  suggested  by  the  fact  that  the  tabernacle  was 
merely  temporary  and  movable,  while  the  temple  was  permanent  and  fixed. 
The  dimensions  of  the  temple  were  double  those  of  the  tabernacle.  Like 
that,  it  faced  the  east,  having  the  Most  Holy  Place  in  the  west. 

Its  length  (including  the  porch)  was  seventy  cubits.  Of  this  length  the 
porch  had  ten  cubits,  the  Holy  Place  forty,  and  the  Most  Holy  Place 
twenty.  1  Kings  vi,  3,  17,  20.  The  width  of  the  building  on  the  ground 
was  twenty  cubits,  but  to  this  there  was  added  to  the  house  proper  a  width  of 
five  cubits,  for  three  stories  of  chambers  which  were  built  adjoining  all  the 
walls  of  the  temple,  excepting  the  porch.  At  the  height  of  every  five  cu 
bits  the  temple  wall  receded  a  cubit  until  half  the  height  was  reached;  thus 
making  each  story  of  chambers  a  cubit  wider  than  the  one  below  it.  1  Kings 
vi.  5,  6,  10.  The  chambers  on  the  west  side  must  also  have  added  five 
cubits  to  the  length.  The  height  of  the  building  varied  in  different  parts. 
The  chambers  were  fifteen  cubits  high,  the  Most  Holy  Place  twenty,  the 
Holy  Place  thirty,  and  the  porch  one  hundred  and  twenty.  1  Kings 
vi,  3,  20;  2  Chron.  iii,  4.  It  is  thought  by  some  critics  that  this  last 
measurement  is  an  error  in  the  copying  of  some  ancient  manuscript.  Eighty 
has  been  suggested  by  some  as  the  correct  reading,  and  twenty  by  others. 

In  the  porch  were  the  two  celebrated  pillars  called  Jachin  and  Boaz. 
These  were  made  of  brass  and  highly  ornamented.  1  Kings  vii,  15-22.  It 
is  not  definitely  stated  that  they  were  placed  in  the  porch  as  a  support  to 
that  part  of  the  building,  but  this  would  seem  to  be  probable,  though  it  is 
denied  by  some.  Crossing  the  porch,  which  was  ten  cubits  by  twenty,  we 
find  folding  doors  of  fir  or  cypress,  having  posts  of  olive  wood.  These 
doors  were  ornamented  with  carved  cherubim,  palm  trees,  and  flowers,  all 
of  which  were  covered  with  gold.  1  Kings  vi,  33-35.  Within  the  doors 
was  the  Holy  Place,  forty  cubits  long,  twenty  wide,  and  thirty  high. 
There  were  windows  in  this,  probably  of  lattice  work.  1  Kings  v-i,  4. 
These  windows  must  have  been  in  the  upper  part  of  the  room,  since  the 
three  stories  of  the  chambers  reached  on  the  outside  half  way  up  the  height. 
The  stone  walls  were  completely  covered  on  the  inside  with  wainscoting 
of  cedar.  The  floor  was  made  of  cedar  covered  with  cypress,  which  in  turn 
was  covered  with  gold.  1  Kings  vi,  15,  30.  The  ceiling  was  cypress 
overlaid  with  gold.  2  Chron.  iii,  5.  The  sides  were  elegantly  carved  with 
cherubim,  palms,  and  flowers,  covered  over  with  gold.  1  Kings  vi,  18; 
2  Chron.  iii,  7. 


In  the  IIolv  Place  there  were  ten  golden  candlesticks,  five  on  each  side, 
and  ten  tables  of  show-bread,  arranged  in  a  similar  way.  2  Chron.  iv,  7,  8. 
It  is  supposed  by  some  that  only  one  candlestick  and  one  table  were  in  use 
at  a  time.  See  2  Chron.  xiii,  11  ;  xxix,  18  ;  where  the  words  are  in  the  singu 
lar  number.  There  we.e  snuffers,  tongp,  basins,  and  all  other  necessary  arti 
cle?,  also  of  gold.  1  Kings  vii,  50.  The  altar  of  incense,  which  was  in  this 
part  of  the  temple,  was  made  of  cedar  and  covered  witi.  gold.  1  Kings  vi,  20. 

Between  the  Sanctuary,  or  Holy  Place,  arid  the  Oracle,  or  Most  Holy  Place, 
there  was  a  partition,  in  which  were  double  doors  made  of  olive-wood 
carved  and  overlaid  with  gold.  1  Kings  vi,  31.  32.  There  was  also  a  rich 
vail  of  embroidery  at  this  doorway.  2  Chron.  iii,  14.  The  Oracle,  like  the 
Most  Holy  Place  of  the  tabernacle,  was  a  perfect  cube.  It  was  twenty 
cubits  in  length,  breadth,  and  height.  1  Kings  vi,  20.  Floor,  sides,  and 
ceiling'  were  of  wood,  with  carved  cherubim,  palm-trees,  and  flowers,  all 
overlaid  with  gold.  1  Kings  vi,  29,  30.  There  were  no  windows  here; 
Jehovah  dwells  in  "thick  darkness."  1  Kings  viii,  12.  Two  gigantic 
cherubim,  made  of  olive-wood  and  covered  with  gold,  were  in  the  Oracle. 
They  were  ten  cubits  high,  and  their  outstretched  wings,  touching  each 
other  at  the  tips,  reached  entirely  across  the  width  of  the  room.  1  Kings 
vi,  23-28.  They  were  in  a  standing  position,  and  had  their  faces  turned 
toward  the  vail.  2  Chron.  iii,  10-13.  The  ark  of  the  covenant,  which  had 
been  in  the  tabernacle,  was  put  into  the  Oracle  under  the  wings  of  the 
cherubim  after  the  temple  was  finished.  1  Kings  viii,  6.  No  doubt  the 
original  cherubim  and  the  mercy-seat  accompanied  it,  though  this  is  nowhere 
expressly  stated.  It  may  be  inferred,  however,  from  the  fact  that  after  the 
temple  was  built  Jehovah  is  represented,  as  in  the  days  of  the  tabernacle, 
"dwelling  between  the  cherubim."  Compare  1  Sam.  iv,  4;  2  Sain,  vi,  2; 
Psa.  Ixxx,  1;  xcix,  1,  with  2  Kings  xix,  15  ;  Isa.  xxxvii,  16. 

No  definite  account  is  given  of  the  court  or  courts  surrounding  the  temple. 
In  1  Kings  vi,  36  the  "inner  court "  is  spoken  of.  This  was  doubtless  the 
space  immediately  around  the  sacred  edifice.  Its  dimensions  are  not  given, 
nor  is  it  certain  what  is  meant  by  the  text  just  referred  to:  "He  built  the 
inner  court  with  three  rows  of  hewed  stone,  and  a  row  of  cedar  beams." 
Some  commentators  suppose  this  to  mean  that  the  inner  court  was  sur 
rounded  by  a  wall  consisting  of  three  courses  of  stone  capped  with  cedar 
beams.  Others  suppose  that  the  inner  court  was  a  raised  platform  elevated 
to  the  height  of  three  courses  of  stone  with  a  coping  of  cedar,  and  they 
refer  to  Jer.  xxxvi,  10,  where  this  is  called  "the  higher  court." 
.  This  court,  which  was  also  called  the  "Court  of  the  priests,"  (2  Chron. 
iv,  9,)  contained  the  brazen  altar  of  burnt  offering,  which  was  much  larger 
than  the  one  in  the  court  of  the  tabernacle,  being  twenty  cubits  in  length 
and  iii  breadth,  and  ten  in  height.  There  was  also  here  a  circular  "  molten 

154  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [I  Kings. 

sea,"  ten  cubits  in  diameter  and  five  in  height.  Tt  stood  on  twelve  brazen 
oxen,  three  Hieing  each  point  of  the  compass.  On  each  side  of  the  altar 
there  were  five  brazen  lavers.  2  Chron.  iv,  1-6. 

Around  this  court  was  another  and  a  larger  one,  called  the  "  Great  Court," 
in  2  Chron.  iv,  9;  the  "  Outer  Court,"  in  Ezek.  xlvi,  21 ;  and  the  "  Court,  of 
the  Lord's  House,"  in  Jer.  xix,  14;  xxvi,  2.  This  was  the  Court  of  the 
People,  and  was  surrounded  by  strong  walls,  in  which  were  gates  of  brass. 
2  Chron.  iv,  9. 

The  foregoing  description  of  Solomon's  temple  coincides  in  the  main  with 
the  accounts  usually  given  by  commentators.  It  is  proper,  however,  to 
notice  the  ingenious  theory  advanced  by  the  Rev  T.  0.  Paine,  in  his  Sol 
omon's  Temple,  already  referred  to  in  the  note  on  Exod.  xl,  2.  Mr.  Paine 
has  evidently  studied  the  subject  with  much  care,  and  has  given  the  results 
of  his  investigations  in  an  interesting  monograph.  He  assumes  that  the 
description  given  by  Ezekiel  in  chapter  xl,  at  seq..  is  not  the  description  of 
an  ideal  temple,  but  of  Solomon's  temple  as  it  actually  appeared  before  its 
destruction ;  and  that  it  is  designed  to  be  a  complement  to  the  account 
given  in  the  books  of  Kings  and  Chronicles,  the  one  narrative  detailing 
points  omitted  by  the  other.  He  asserts  that  the  building,  contrary  to  the 
usual  opinion,  was  wider  at  the  top  than  at  the  bottom,  and  refers  to  Ezek. 
xli,  T  for  proof;  that  the  "chambers"  mentioned  as  running  around  the 
building  were  galleries,  and  that  these  were  supported  by  columns,  the 
galleries  increasing  in  distance  from  the  temple-wall  as  they  rose.  He  con 
tends  that  u  all  pictures  of  the  temple  which  represent  it  as  widest  on  the 
ground  and  narrower  upward  are  bottom  upward." — Solomons  Tem.ple, 
p.  2.  (See  the  engravings  on  the  opposite  page.) 

296.— THE  MONTH  ZIF. 

VI,  87.  In  the  fourth  year  was  the  foundation  of  the  house  of 
the  Lord,  laid,  in  the  month  Zif. 

This  was  the  second  mouth  of  the  sacred  year  of  the  Hebrews,  and  cor 
responded  nearly  to  our  month  of  May. 

297.—THE  MONTH  BUL. 

VI,  38.    In   the   eleventh   year,    in  the  month    Bui,  \vhioh    is    the 
eighth   month,  was  the  house  finished. 

This  was  the  eighth  month  of  the  sacred  year,  and  answered  nearly  to 
our  November. 

298.— SAWS. 

VII,  9.    All  these    were  of  costly  stones,  according  to  the  meas 
ures  of  hewed  stones,  sawed  with  saws. 

When  the  saw  was  invented  is  not  known.  It  is  seen  on  the  Egyptian 
monuments,  and  also  on  the  Assyrian.  The  saws  referred  to  in  the  text 

57. — FRONT  VIEW. 

5s._\VEST  END 

59. iNTEIUOlt. 

Solomon's  Temple   according  to    Paine. 

I  Kings.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  157 

were  doubtless  double-handed,  s:nce  they  were  used  for  sawing  stones.  A 
striking  peculiarity  of  the  Oriental  saw  is  that  the  teeth  usually  incline 
toward  the  handle  instead  of  from  it,  as  in  the  saws  used  among  us. 


VIII,  2.  All  the  men  of  Israel  assembled  themselves  unto  king 
Solomon  at  the  feast-  in  the  month  Ethanim,  which  is  the 
seventh  month. 

Ethanirn  was  the  seventh  month  of  the  sacred  year,  and  the  first  of  the 
civil  .year,  and  corresponded  nearly  with  our  month  of  October.  The  great 
day  of  atonement  and  the  feast  of  tabernacles  took  place  during  this  month. 
It  is  to  this  feast  that  reference  is  made  in  the  text. 


VIII,  22.  Solomon  stood  before  the  altar  of  the  Lord  in  the 
presence  of  all  the  congregation  of  Israel,  and  spread  forth 
his  hands  toward  lr  :aven. 

This  was  an  ancient  custom  in  prayer,  not  only  among  the  Hebrews,  but 
among  the  heathen.  At  the  present  day  a.  favorite  praying  posture  with 
Mohammedans  is  standing  with  hands  uplifted.  The  allusions  to  it  in  classic 
writers  are  frequent,  and  so  also  are  the  references  in  Scripture.  See  Exod. 
ix,  29,  33  ;  2  Chrou.  vi,  12  ;  Ezra  ix,  5  ;  Job  xi,  13  ;  Psa.  xxviii,  2  ;  xliv,  20; 
Ixviii,  31;  Ixxxviii,  9;  cxxxiv,  2;  cxli,  2;  cxliii,  6;  Isa.  i,  15. 


X,  16.  King  Solomon  made  two  hundred  targets  of  beaten 
gold:  six  hundred  shekels  of  gold  went  to  one  target. 

The  "target"  here  is  different  from  the  one  spoken  of  in  1  Sam.  xvii,  6, 
where  see  the  note.  There  it  is  kidon,  a  javelin;  here  it  is  tsinnah,  a  large 
shield,  for  the  description  of  which  see  note  on  I  Sam.  xvii,  7.  These  great 
golden  shields  of  Solomon  were  probably  made  of  wood,  and  covered  with 
plates  of  gold  instead  of  leather.  See  also  2  Chron.  ix,  15. 


X,  17.  He  made  three  hundred  shields  of  beaten  gold :  three 
pounds  of  gold  went  to  one  shield. 

These  shields  were  of  a  smaller  size  than  those  referred  to  in  the  sixteenth 
verse.  The  Hebrew  mayen  is  in  some  places  rendered  "buckler,"  (2  Sam. 
xxii,  31 ;  2  Chron.  xxiii,  9,)  and,  on  the  other  hand,  buckler  is  sometimes  the 
rendering  of  tsinnali.  See  note  on  1  Sam.  xvii,  7.  While,  however,  the  two 
words  are  thus  interchanged  by  the  translators,  there  was  an  essential 
difference  in  the  size  and  weight  of  the  two  objects  represented  by  them. 
The  tsinnah,  in  verse  16.  was  for  heavy  troops,  and  was  large  enough  to  pro- 

158  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [I  Kings. 

tect  the  entire  person ;  while  the  mayen,  in  this  verse,  was  a  shield  which 
only  protected  a  part  of  the  person,  could  be  carried  on  the  arm,  and 
was  used  by  light  troops.  See  also  2  Chron.  ix,  1 G. 


X,  18.  Moreover,  the  king  made  a  great  throne  of  ivory,  and 
overlaid  it  with  the  best  gold. 

The  body  of  the  throne  was  probably  of  wood,  entirely  covered  with  ivory 
and  sold,  botli  being  visible  and  relieving  each  other.  Judging  from  the 
description  given  of  this  throne  it  must  have  been  one  of  extraordinary 
magnificence.  It  had,  by  the  two  arms,  li-ns  such  as  are  represented  on 
the  monumental  pictures  of  ancient  Egyptian  and  Assyrian  thrones.  Six 
steps  reached  to  the  platform  on  which  it  was  placed,  and  on  either  side  of 
each  step  was  an  image  of  a  standing  lion.  Thus  the  upward  passage  to 
the  throne  was  guarded  by  twelve  lions,  six  on  either  side.  Oriental 
monarchs  have  always  been  noted  for  the  splendor  of  their  thrones.  Gold 
and  precious  stones  of  every  kind,  and  wrought  by  the  most  elaborate  work 
manship  into  forms  of  rarest  beauty,  are  described  by  travelers  as  dazzling 
the  eye  by  the  brilliancy  of  their  appearance.  We  are  told  of  thrones  that 
are  covered  with  diamonds,  rubies,  emeralds,  and  pearls,  of  almost  fabulous 
size,  and  fashioned  in  the  semblance  of  birds,  beasts,  trees,  and  vines  with 
leaves  and  fruit.  See  also  2  Chron.  ix,  17. 


XI,  5.  For  Solomon  went  after  Ashtoreth  the  goddess  of  the 
Zidonians,  and  after  Mileom  the  abomination  of  the  Ammon 

1.  Ashtoreth  was  the  companion  deity  to  Baal.  See  note  on  Num. 
xxii,  41.  This  text,  verse  33  of  this  chapter,  and  2  Kings  xxiii,  13,  are  the 
only  places  where  the  word  is  used  in  the  singular.  In  all  other  passages  it 
is  Ashtaroth,  which  is  a  term  probably  corresponding  to  Baalim,  the  plural 
of  Baal.  See  note  on  Judges  iii,  7.  The  two  words  are  in  several  places 
coupled  together.  See  Judges  x,  6;  1  Sam.  vii,  4;  xii,  10.  Ashtoreth,  or 
Astarte,  was  a  goddess  of  the  Sidonians,  and  also  of  the  Philistines.  1  Sam. 
xxxi,  10.  Under  different  names  she  was  worshiped  in  all  the  countries  and 
colonies  of  the  Syro- Arabian  nations.  As  Baal  is  supposed  to  have  represent 
ed  the  sun,  so  Astarte  is  thought  to  have  represented  the  moon ;  though 
some  take  the  two  to  stand  for  Jupiter  and  Venus.  The  worship  of  Astarte  is 
very  ancient,  and  was  undoubtedly  connected  with  impure  rites.  But  little 
is  known  of  the  form  of  the  goddess  or  of  the  mode  of  worship.  She  is 
sometimes  seen  represented  with  the  head  and  horns  of  a  cow,  and  some 
times  with  a  woman's  head  having  horns.  We  read  in  Gen.  xiv,  5,  of  the 
city  of  Ashteroth  Karnaim,  that  is,  the  horned  Ashtaroth.  As  the  city  was 

I  Kings.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  159 

doubtless  named  because  of  the  worship  of  Astarte,  the  word  Karnaim 
(horns)  is  thought  to  have  reference  to  the  horns  of  the  goddess,  either  lunar 
or  bovine,  or  both.  If  "  the  queen  of  heaven  "  spoken  of  by  Jeremiah 
was  meant  for  Astarte,  as  many  suppose,  we  have  a  little  light  thrown  on 
the  mode  of  her  worship.  "Seest  thou  not  what  they  do  in  the  cities  of 
Judali  and  in  the  streets  of  Jerusalem?  The  children  gather  wood,  and  the 
fathers  kindle  the  fire,  and  the  women  knead  their  dough,  to  make  cakes  to 
the  queen  of  heaven,  and  to  pour  out  drink-offerings  uoto  other  gods,  that 
they  may  provoke  me  to  anger."  Jer.  vii,  17,  18.  See  also  Jer.  xliv.  17-19. 
Here  a  whole  family  is  represented  as  engaging  in  the  worship  of  the  god 
dess.  They  present  to  her  meat-offerings  and  drink-offerings,  and  burn 
incense.  The  worship  of  Astarte  is  also  referred  to  in  Judges  ii,  13;  1  Sam. 
vii,  3  ;  xii,  10.  See  likewise  note  on  Isa.  Ixv,  11. 

2.  Milcom,  also  called  Malcham,  (Zeph.  i,  5,)  is  another  name  for  Molech. 
See  note  on  Lev.  xviii,  21. 


XIV,  3.     Take  with  thee  ten  loaves,  and  cracknels,  and  a  eruse 
of  honey,  and  go  to  him. 

Cracknels  (nilikuddim)  were  some  sort  of  thin  hard  biscuit  carried  by  the 
common  people  on  their  journeys.  Their  name  (from  nakad,  to  mark  with 
points)  may  indicate  thin  punctured  biscuits,  or  those  which  will  easily 


XV,  13.     Also  Maaehah  his  mother,  even  her  he  removed  from 
being  queen,  because    she    had   made  an  idol  in  a   grove  ;   and 
Asa  destroyed  her  idol,  and  burnt  it  by  the   brook  Kidron. 

jlfiphletseth,  here,  and  in  the  parallel  passage  in  2  Chron.  xv,  16,  rendered 
"idol,"  is  defined  by  Fuerst,  "horror,  terror,  monstrosity."  From  the  mode 
of  its  destruction  here  noticed  this  image  was  evidently  of  wood.  It  is  sup 
posed  to  have  been  an  obscene  figure,  the  worship  of  which  shows  the  de 
moralizing  influence  of  idolatry.  Such  figures  were  often  worshiped  among 
the  ancient  idolaters,  and  are  still  worshiped  in  India. 


XVII,  10.  When  he  came  to  the  gate  of  the  city,  behold,  the 
widow  woman  was  there  gathering  of  sticks. 

There  seems  to  have  been  a  scarcity  of  fuel  in  Palestine  then  as  now. 
Twigs,  branches,  sticks  of  all  kinds,  and  even  thorns,  (P?a.  Iviii,  9,)  are  care 
fully  gathered  for  making  fires,  and  the  greatest  economy  is  practiced  in 
their  use. 
See  note  on  Psa.  Iviii,  9,  and  also  on  Matt,  vi,  30, 

160  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [I  Kings. 

308.— THE  MEAL  JAR. 

XVII,  12.     She  said,    As  the   Lord  thy  God  liveth,    I   have   not  a 
cake,    but  a  handful  of  meal  in  a   barrel. 

The  kad  was  not  what  wo  understand  by  a  barrel,  a  wooden  vessel  with 
staves  and  hoops,  but  a  vessel  made  of  clay.  The  same  word  is  translated 
"pitcher"  in  several  other  places.  It  is  still  common  in  the  East  to  keep 
grain  in  earthen  jars.  The  same  sort  of  vessel  which  was  used  for  meal 
by  this  widow  was  afterward  used  for  water  on  the  occasion  of  Elijah's 
sacrifice.  1  Kings  xviii,  33. 


XVIII,  27.      It  came   to  pass  at  noon,  that  Elijah  mocked  them, 
and   said,  Cry  aloud  :    for   he   is   a  god  ;   either  he  is  talking,   or 
he    is    pursuing,    or    he    is    in    a    journey,    or    peradventure    he 
sleepeth,    and    must   be   awaked. 

Faber  maintains  the  identity  of  Baal  with  the  Hindoo  deity  Jagan  Nath, 
the  "lord  of  the  universe,"  who  is  represented  by  his  followers  as  sometimes 
wrapped  in  profound  meditation,  sometimes  sleeping,  and  sometimes  taking 
long  journeys.  He  says,  "Elijah  is  not  simply  ridiculing  the  worship  of  the 
idolatrous  priests;  he  is  not  taunting  them,  as  it  were,  at  random  ;  but  he  is 

ridiculing  their  senseless  adoration,  upon  their  own  acknowledged  principles." 

Origin  of  Pagan  Idolatry,  vol.  ii,  p.  503. 


XVIII,  2S.  They  oried  aloud,  and  cut  themselves  after  their 
manner  with  knives  and  lancets,  till  the  blood  gushed  out 
upon  them. 

It  was  customary  among  the  heathen  to  make  lacerations  in  their  flesh, 
not  only  as  a  mark  of  mourning  for  the  dead,  as  shown  in  the  note  on  Lev. 
xix,  28,  but  also  as  an  act  of  idolatrous  worship.  This  custom  was  not,  how 
ever,  of  Egyptian  origin,  as  were  many  of  the  customs  practiced  in  Canaan. 
Wilkinson  says  that  the  Egyptians  bent  themselves  at  the  close  of  their 
sacrifices,  as  ig  shown  by  paintings  in  the  tombs.  He  also  says  that  the 
custom  of  cutting  was  from  Syria.  The  same  practice  is  followed  at  the 
present  day  among  idolaters  of  different  nations.  They  cut  their  flesh  in 
various  ways  until  they  are  streaming  with  blood.  They  consider  that  this 
voluntary  blood-shedding  is  meritorious,  and  will  help  to  wash  away  their 


XVIII,  86.  It  came  to  pass  at  the  timo  of  the  offering  of  the 
evening  sacrifice  that  Elijah  the  prophet  came  near. 

The  precise  time  at  which  that  sacrifice  was  offered  is  a  matter  of  dispute. 
In  Exod.  xxix,  39,  it  is  directed  to  be  offered  "  at  even;  "  literally,  between  the 

I  Kings.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  '161 

two  evenings.  On  the  meaning  of  this  expression  the  controversy  turns. 
Some  suppose  the  first  evening  to  have  been  at  sunset,  and  the  second  at 
the  time  when  the  stars  became  visible.  The  two  evenings  must  have  beeu 
earlier  than  this  in  Elijah's  time,  since  the  events  which  took  place  after  his 
sacrifice  on  this  occasion  required  a  longer  period  of  daylight  than  can  be 
found  so  late  in  the  day.  See  1  Kings  xviii,  40-46.  The  tradition  among  the 
Jews  is  that  the  first  evening  was  at  the  time  the  sun  began  to  decline  to 
ward  the  west ;  that  is,  shortly  after  noon.  The  second  evening  was  the  time 
the  sun  set.  The  time  of  the  evening  sacrifice  would  thus  be  midway  be 
tween  noon  and  sunset,  or  from  half  past  two  to  half  past  three  ovclock. 
This  was  about  the  time  of  its  offering  in  the  days  of  Christ. 

312.— THE  SOUND  OF  RAIN. 

XVIII,  41.  Elijah  said  unto  Ahab,  Get  thee  up,  eat  and  drink  ; 
for  there  is  a  sound  of  abundance  of  rain. 

In  India,  according  to  Roberts,  it  is  as  common  to  say,  sound  of  rain,  as 
with  us  to  say,  appearance  of  rain.  This  expression  sometimes  refers  to  the 
thunder  which  precedes  rain,  and  sometimes  to  a  blowing  noise  in  the  clouds 
which  shows  the  approach  of  rain. 


XVIII,  42.  He  cast  himself  down  upon  the  earth,  and  put  his 
face  between  his  knees. 

This  is  not,  as  some  commentators  have  thought,  a  posture  obtained  by 
kneeling  on  the  ground  and  then  bending  the  face  over  to  the  earth.  It 
refers  to  a  common  Oriental  position  for  meditation  and  devotion.  The  per 
son  sits  with  the  feet  drawn  close  to  the  body,  thus  bringing  the  knees 
nearly  on  a  level  with  the  chin.  In  Egypt  there  are  many  statues  of  men 
in  this  position.  Specimens  of  these  can  be  seen  in  museums  of  Egyptian 
antiquities;  there  are  several  such  in  the  Abbott  Collection  in  New  York, 
and  a  number  in  the  British  Museum,  one  of  which  is  made  of  black  basalt. 
This  was  undoubtedly  the  posture  of  Elijah,  who,  in  addition  to  sitting  in 
this  peculiar  manner,  inclined  his  head  forward  until  his  face  was  literally 
"between  his  knees."  Dr.  Shaw  found  this  to  be  an  occasional  posture  of 
the  Turks  and  Moors  in  Barbary  while  engaged  in  their  devotions.  Rosen- 
miiller  tells  of  a  Persian  poet  who  was  so  lost  in  religious  contemplation, 
with  his  head  upon  his  knees,  that  lie  failed  to  hear  the  voice  of  a  friend 
who  accosted  him. — Morgenland,  vol.  iii,  p.  194.  In  India  tins  posture  is  like 
wise  common  for  those  who  are  engaged  in  deep  meditation  or  who  are  in 
great  sorrow.  Roberts  gives  several  illustrations  of  it:  "This  morning,  as  I 
passed  the  garden  of  Chinnan,  I  saw  him  on  the  ground  with  his  face  be 
tween  his  knees.  I  wonder  what  plans  he  was  forming!  It  must  have  been 



[I  Kings. 

something  very  important  to  cause  him  thus  to  meditate."  "  Kandan  is  sick 
or  in  trouble,  for  he  has  got  his  face  between  his  knees." — Oriental  Illustra 
tions,  p.  205. 


XVIII,  46.  He  girded  up  his  loins,  and  ran  before  Ahab  to  the 
entrance  of  Jezreel. 

1.  The  girdle  is  one  of  the  most  useful  articles  of  Eastern  costume,  and 
frequently  the  most  ornamental  of  them  all.  With  the  long  loose  dress  of 
the  Orientals  it  becomes  a  necessity,  since  it  would  be  difficult  to  walk  or 
run  unless  the  dress  were  tightened.  Hence  Elijah  "  girded  up  his  loins  " 
as  a  preparation  for  running.  See  also  2  Kings  iv,  29  ;  ix,  1.  Thus  the 
Israelites  prepared  for  their  exodus.  Exod.  xii,  11.  It  is  also  thought  to 
give  strength  to  the  body  while  engaged  in  severe  bodily  labor  or  exercise, 
and  hence  the  word  is  sometimes  used  figuratively  to  denote  strength.  See 
Job  xl,  7  ;  Psa.  Ixv,  6 ;  xciii.  1. 

Girdles  are  of  various  sixes,  and  are  made  of  different  materials,  from 
calico  to  cashmere.  The  rich  use  silk  or  linen,  and  sometimes  decorate 
their  girdles  with  gold,  silver,  and  precious  stories.  The  poor  have  them  of 
coarser  materials,  leather  being  very  commonly  used.  Elijah's  girdle  was  of 
leather,  (2  Kings  i,  8 ;)  so  also  was  that  of  John  the  Baptist.  Matt.  iii.  4. 

60.— RUNNING  FOOTMEN.    (See  next  page.) 

Graham  thus  describes  the  mode  of  putting  on  the  girdle.     "  The  girdle  is 
put  on  thus:  your  slave  having  folded  it  the  right  breadth,  holds  it  at  one 

I  Kings.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  163 

end,  while  you  take  the  other  and  lay  it  upon  your  side,  and  roll  yourself 
round  and  round,  as  tight  a^  possible,  till  you  arrive  at  the  slave,. who 
remains  immovable.  If  you  have  no  slaves,  a  hook  or  the  branch  of  a  tree 
will  answer  the  same  purpose."— The  Jordan  and  the  Rhine,  p.  163.  When 
running,  the  ends  of  the  outer  garment  are  tucked  into  the  girdle. 

2.  It  is  still  customary  to  do  honor  to  a  king  by  running  before  bis 
chariot;  and  the  same  honor  is  conferred  upon  persons  of  less  distinction. 
When  Mohammed  AH  came  to  Jaffa,  some  years  ago.  with  a  large  army,  to 
quell  the  rebellion  in  Palestine,  he  had  his  quarters  inside  the  city,  while  the 
camp  was  on  the  sand-hills  to  the  south.  The  officers  in  their  passage  from 
camp  to  headquarters  "  were  preceded  by  runners,  who  always  kept  just 
ahead  of  the  horses,  no  matter  how  furiously  they  were  r'dden  ;  and  in  order 
to  run  with  the  greater  <  ase,  they  not  only  girded  their  loins  very  tightly, 
but  also  tucked  up  their  loose  garments  under  the  girdle,  lest  they  should 
be  incommoded  by  them."— THOMSON,  The  Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  ii,  p.  227. 

Allusion  is  a\<o  made  to  this  custom  in  1  Sam.  viii.  11;  2  Sam.  xv,  1; 
1  Kings  i,  5.  (See  the  engraving  on  the  opposite  page.) 

315.— DAY'S  JOURNEY. 

XIX,  4.  But  he  himself  went  a  day's  journey  into  the  wilder 

This  is  a  very  ancient  mode  of  estimating  distances,  and  is  still  in  use.  A 
"  day's  journey  "  varies,  according  to  circumstance •»,  from  eighteen  miles  to 
thirty.  The  ordinary  day's  journey  of  Scripture  is  probably  not  far  from 
twen'V  miles.  See  also  Gen.  xxx,  36;  xxxi.  23  ;  Exod.  v,  3 ;  viii,  27;  Num. 
xi,  31  ;  Deut.  i.  2 ;  2  Kings  iii,  9  ;  Luke  ii,  44. 

The  "Sabbath  day's  journey"  was  a  less  distance.  See  note  on 
Acts  i,  12. 


XIX,  13.  It  was  so,  when  Elijah  heard  it,  that  he  wrapped 
his  face  in  his  mantle,  and  went  out,  and  stood  in  the  enter 
ing  in  of  the  cave. 

Covering  the  face  was  a  sign  of  reverence  in  the  presence  of  God.  Thus 
Moses,  when  the  Lord  appeared  to  him  in  the  burning  bush,  "hid  his  face, 
for  he  was  afraid  to  look  upon  God."  Exod.  iii,  6.  So  the  sew  phi  m  seen 
by  Isaiah  in  his  temple-vision  covered  their  faces  with  two  of  their  wings. 
Isa.  vi,'2. 

317.— PLOWING. 

XIX  19.    So    he    departed  thenee,    and    found  Elisha  the  son  of 
•  Shaphat,     who    was!    plowing    with    twelve  yoke    of   oxen    be 
fore  him,  and  he  with  the  twelfth. 

The  Eastern  plow  is  a  rude  affair,  far  inferior  to  the  one  in  use  in  our 
country.  It  does  not  enter  deep  into  the  soil,  and  is  of  very  light  and 



(I  Kings. 

simple  construction,  sometimes  being  made  merely  of  the  trunk  of  a  young 
tree  having  two  branches  running  in  opposite  directions.  There  are  many 
plows,  however,  not  quite  so  primitive  in  structure  as  this.  See  note  on 
Isa.  ii,  4.  Some  of  them  have  one  handle  and  some  have  two  handles,  and 
they  are  usually  drawn  by  two  oxen.  The  plowmen  often  plow  in  company. 
Dr.  Thomson  says  he  has  seen  more  than  a  dozen  plows  at  work  in  the  same 
field,  each  having  its  plowman  and  yoke  of  oxen,  and  all  moving  along  in 
single  file.  Anderson  makes  a  similar  statement.  We  can  thus  see  how 
Elijah  "was  plowing  with  twelve  yoke  of  oxen  before  him."  He  had  not, 
as  some  have  imagined,  twenty-four  oxen  yoked  to  a  single  plow,  but  there 
were  twelve  plows  in  a  file,  each  having  its  own  oxen  and  plowman,  and  he 
was  "with  the  twelfth;  "  that  is,  he  had  charge  of  the  last  plow  in  the  file. 


XX,  11.  Let  not  him  that  girdeth  on  his  harness  boast  himself 
as  he  that  putteth  it  off. 

The  girdle  is  used  as  a  convenient  place  for  carrying  different  weapons. 
The  sword,  the  dagger,  and  in  modern  times  the  pistol,  are  placed  there. 

It  was  thus  that  Ehud 
carried  his  dagger. 
Judges  iii,  16.  We 
are  told  in  1  Sain. 
xxv,  13,  that  David 
and  his  men  girded 
on  their  swords.  Sim 
ilar  allusions  to  this 
use  of  the  girdle  are 
made  in  Dent,  i,  41  ; 
Psa.  xlv,  3 ;  Sol.  Song 
iii,  8 ;  Isa.  viii,  9. 

The  military  girdle 
was  not,  however,  a 
mere  sword-sash,  but 
a  strong  belt,  designed  to  sustain  the  body,  and  at  the  same  time  to  cover 
such  portion  of  the  abdomen  as  might  be  unprotected  by  the  cuirass.  Some 
girdles,  indeed,  seem  to  have  been  a  constituent  part  of  the  cuirass,  intended 
to  fasten  *t  more  firmly.  The  importance  of  the  girdle  as  a  piece  of>  armor 
is  seen  in  the  fact  that  thorough  preparation  for  the  fight  is  called  "girding 
on."  Paul  says:  "Stand  therefore,  having  your  loins  girt  about  with  truth." 
Eph.  vi,  14. 

Military  girdles  were  made  of  stronger  materials  than  those  designed  for 
common  purposes.  Leather,  iron,  and  bronze  were  used  in  their  construc 
tion,  and,  where  rich  ornament  was  required,  silver  and  gold. 


1  Kings.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  165 


XX,  16.  But  Ben-hadad  was  drinking  himself  drunk  in  the 
pavilions,  he  and  the  kings,  the  thirty  and  two  kings  that 
helped  him. 

It  is  not  necessary  to  associate  any  idea  of  splendor  with  these  "  pavil 
ions."  They  were  merely  booths,  (succoth,}  as  the  word  is  rendered  in  Gen. 
xxxiii,  17;  Jobxxvii,  18;  Jonah  iv,  5.  In  Isaiah  i,  8,  the  same  word  is 
translated  "lodge;  "  in  Amos  ix,  11  it  is  "  tabernacle."  Such  "pavilions" 
were  nothing  but  temporary  structures  of  boughs  erected  to  keep  off  the 
heat,  and  even  kings  were  not  ashamed  to  make  use  of  them.  It  is  said 
that  such  are  still  erected  for  Turkish  pashas  while  on  warlike  expeditions. 


XX,  28.  The  Syrians  have  said,  The  Lord  is  God' of  the  hills, 
but  he  is  not  God  of  the  valleys. 

There  seems  to  be  an  allusion  here  to  the  opinion,  prevalent  among  all 
heathen  nations,  that  the  different  parts  of  the  earth  had  different  divinities. 
They  had  gods  for  the  woods,  for  the  mountains,  for  the  seas,  for  the  heavens, 
and  for  the  lower  regions.  The  Syrians  seem  to  have  received  the  impres 
sion  that  Jehovah  was  specially  the  God  of  the  mountains ;  but  he  mani 
fested  to  them  that  he  ruled  everv-where. 


XX,  32.    So  they  girded  sackcloth  on  their  loins,  and  put  ropes 
on  their  heads,   and  eame  to  the  king  of  Israel. 

This  was  a  sign  of  deep  abasement  and  submission.  It  was  a  Persian 
custom  for  persons  desiring  clemency  from  the  sovereign  to  approach  him 
with  a  sword  suspended  from  the  neck.  The  same  practice  has  also  been 
noticed  in  Egypt.  Harmer  suggests  that  these  servants  of  Ben-hadad  ap 
pear  before  Ahab  with  ropes  around*  their  necks  from  which  their  swords 
hung.  Others  suppose  that  these  ropes  were  halters. 


XXI,  3.    Naboth    said    to    Ahab,    The    Lord   forbid   it    me,  that  I 
should  give  the  inheritance  of  my  fathers  unto  thee. 

The  law  of  Moses  would  not  permit  the  sale  of  one's  patrimony,  except 
in  cases  of  extreme  destitution.  See  Lev.  xxv,  23,  25:  Num.  xxxvi,  7. 
Roberts  gives  an  interesting  description  of  an  Eastern  garden,  and  speaks 
of  the  high  value  placed  on  it  by  its  owner,  who  has  inherited  it  from  his 
ancestors,  and  whose  dearest  associations  in  life  are  connected  with  it. 
"  To  part  with  such  a  place  is,  to  the  people  of  the  East,  like  parting  with 
life  itself."— Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  208. 



[I  Kings. 


XXI,  8.  So  she  wrote  letters  in  Ahab's  name,  and  sealed  them 
with  his  seal. 

The  seal  is,  in  the  East,  of  more  importance  than  the  signature,  and  in 
deed  is  often  used  in  place  of  a  signature.  No  document  is  of  any  validity 
wLut  it.  The  ordinary  mode  of  using  it  is  to  cover  it  with  ink,  and 
press  it  on  the  paper.  The  seal  is  often  connected  with  a  nng,  and  worn 
on  the  finger.  See  note  on  Gen.  xli,  42. 

Ancient  seals  have  been  found  of  various  shapes-cylindrical,  square, 
pyramidal,  oval,  and  round.  A  very  common  style  of  seal  among  the  an- 
dent  Egyptians  was  one  made  of  stone,  rounded  " 


inscription  for  the 
seal  was  on  the 
flat  surface,  and 
the  convex  sur 
face  was  skillfully 
wrought  into  the 
form  of  a  scara- 
baeus  or  beetle. 

Since  the  beetle  was  worshiped   by  the  Egyptians,  whose  example  was 

followed  by  the  Phenicians,  after  whose  deities  Ahab  had  gone,  some  have 

thouo-ht  that  Ahab's  seal  was  of  this  description. 

Seals  that  were  not  set  in  rings  were  perforated  with  a  hole  through 

which  a  string  passed,  by  means  of  which  the  seal  was  suspended  from  th 

neck      It  is  supposed  that  Judah's  was  worn  in  this  way.  Gen.  xxxviii,  18. 

Many  ancient  seals  were  in  shape  of  a  cylinder,  and  some  of  these  were  set 

in  a  frame  which  enabled  the  seal  to  revolve  as  the  imP^sion  was  made' 

Some  beautiful  specimens  of  this  kind 

of  seal  have   been   found   among  the 

ruins  in  Chaldea  and  Assyria. 

The  figures  engraved  on  seals  were 

various.     Modern  Oriental  seals  have 

usually  the  nameot  the  owner  on  them, 

and   often  a  sentence    from    the    Ko 
ran.      The  ancient  seals  had  devices 

of  symbolical    meaning,     and    letters 

either  hieroglyphic  or  cuneiform. 
Seals  are  made  of  brass,  silver,  gold, 


Deals  ulo  Illciu«  UL   kiiaao,   MIT^I,   gw..^, 

pottery,  and  stone,  either  precious  or  common,  set  in  metal.     The  art  of 
engraving  stones  is  very  ancient.     See  Exod.  xxviii,  11,  36;  xxxix,  6. 
See  also  note  on  Neh.  vi,  5,  and  on  Job  xxxviii,  14. 




II.    KINGS. 
324.— THE   FLY-GOD. 

I,  2.  He  sent  messengers,  and  said  unto  them,  Go,  inquire  oi 
Baal-zebub  the  god  of  Ekron  whether  I  shall  recover  of  this 

Baal-zebub  is,  literal^,  "  the  fly-god ;  "  but  whether  this  name  was  given  in 
honor  or  in  contempt  is  not  known.  It  may  have  been  at  first  a  name  of  con 
tempt,  which  afterward,  by  general  use,  lose  its  original  significance.  Some 
suppose  this  god  to  have  been  one  of  the  medical  ido*s  of  the  Philistines, 
receiving  its  title  from  its 
imaginary  influence  over 
pestiferous  insects  which  are 
said  to  infest  Philistia.  In 
Taylor's  Calmet  there  is  a 
curious  p'cture  of  an  an 
tique  paste  representing  a 
head  of  Jupiter,  and  having 
the  appearance  of  a  huge  fly. 

Gale  says:  "The  Pheni- 
cians  styled  their  principal 
god  Baal  Saraeu,  'the  lord 
of  heaven,'  (in  the  Pheni- 
cian  language.)  The  Jews 
called  him  Bnal-zebub,  'lord 
of  a  fly.'  Sealiger  supposes 
that  the  original  name  was 
Baal-zebahim,  '  lord  of  sacri 
fices,'  contracted,  by  way 
of  contempt,  to  Baal-zebub, 
'lord  of  flies; '  i.  e.,  he  could 
not  keep  flies  away  from  his 
sacrifices."  —  Court  of  the 
Gentiles,  book  ii,  c.  vii,  p.  80. 

It  is  thought  that  Beelzebul  is  a  contemptuous  designation  of  this  Philis 
tine  Baal,  he  by  it  being  called  dung-god.  See  Matr.  x,  25 ;  xii,  24 ;  Mark 
iii,  22;  Luke  xi,  15,  18,  19,  where,  according  to  the  best  authorities,  Beel- 
eebnb  should  read  Beelzebul.  The  Jews,  being  fond  of  playing  upoa  words, 
may  have  intentionally  altered  the  name  of  this  god.  Some,  however,  define 
Beelzebul  to  mean  "the  lord  of  the  dwelling,"  and  deny  any  connection 
between  Beelzebul  of  the  New  Testament  ami  Baalzebub  of  the  Old. 




Ill  Kings. 

325.— THE  DIVAN. 

I,  4  Thou  shall  not  come  down  from  that  bed  on  which  thou 
art  gone  up,  but  shalt  surely  die. 

The  royal  bed  was  probably  made,  as  beds  are  now  in  the  houses  of 
wealthy  Orientals,  on  the  divan,  which  is  a  platform  about  three  to  four  feet 
in  widtli,  extending  sometimes  across  one  end  of  the  room  and  sometimes 
around  three  sides/  It  is  used  as  a  sofa  by  day,  and  as  a  sleeping-place  at 


night.  It  is  usually  elevated  from  six  inches  to  a  foot  from  the  floor,  though 
Professor  Hackett"  found  one  instance  at  least  in  which  the  height  of  the 
divan  was  such  that  it  was  necessary  to  mount  to  it  by  two  or  three  steps. 
In  the  palace  of  a  king  it  would  probably  be  higher  than  in  ordinary  dwell 
ings,  and  thus  Ahaziali  literally  went  "up"  to  his  bed.  lu  like  manner 
David  speaks  of  going  "  up"  into  his  bed.  Psa.  cxxxii,  3. 


II,  3.  And  the  sons  of  the  prophets  that  were  at  Bethel  came 
forth  to  Elisha. 

The  disciples  of  the  prophets  were  called  sons,  as  teachers  are  sometimes 
called  fathers.  2  Kings  ii,  12;  vi,  21.  These  "sous  of  the  prophets" 
formed  a  peculiar  order,  whose  mission  seems  to  have  been  to  assist  the 
prophets  in  their  duties,  and  in  time  to  succeed  them.  They  were  not  a  mo 
nastic  order,  as  some  suppose,  nor  were  they  merely  theological  students, 

II  Kings.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  169 

though  they  probably  studied  the  law  and  the  history  of  God's  people, 
together  with  sacred  poetry  and  music. 

The  "schools  of  the  prophets"  in  which  these  "sons"  were  trained  are 
supposed  to  have  been  founded  by  the  prophet  Samuel,  though  their  origin 
and  history  are  involved  in  obscurity.  They  were  located  not  only  in  Bethel, 
as  appears  from  the  text,  but  also  in  Rama,  (1  Sam.  xix,  19,  20,)  in  Jericho, 
(2  Kings?  ii,  5,)  iu  Gilgal,  (2  Kings  iv.  38,)  and  probably  in  other  places.  See 

1  Sam.  x,   5,    10,   and  2  Kings  vi,   1.     Their  members  were  numerous;    a 
hundred  are  spoken  of  in  Gilgal,  (2  Kings  iv,  43,)  and  at  least  fifty  in  Jeri 
cho.     2  Kings  ii,  7. 

Some  of  "  the  sons  of  the  prophets  "  were  married,  and  probably  lived  in 
houses  of  their  own.  2  Kings  iv,  1,  2.  Others  were  unmarried  and  occupied 
a  building  in  common,  (2  Kings  vi,  1,  2.)  and  ate  at  a  common  table. 

2  Kings  iv,  38. 

How  long  the  "  schools  of  the  prophets  "  lasted  is  not  definitely  known. 
They  seem  to  have  flourished  most  in  the  time  of  Samuel,  Elijah,  and  Elisha. 
Fifty  years  after  Elisha's  death  Amos  prophesied;  and,  according  to  his 
statement,  he  had  no  training  in  a  prophetic  school,  though  it  does  not  follow 
that  none  existed  in  his  day.  See  Amos  vii,  14. 

An  extended  account  of  these  schools  may  be  found  in  KeiFs  Commentary 
on  1  Sam.  xix,  18-24 

327.— THE  CRUSE. 

IT,  20.  He  said,  Bring  me  a  new  cruse,  and  put  salt  therein. 
And  they  brought  it  to  him. 

Tsdochith,  here  translated  "cruse,"  is  rendered  "dish"  in  2  Kings  xxi,  13; 
"pan,"  in  2  Ohron.  xxxv,  13;  and  "bosom,"  in  Prov.  xix,  24;  xxvi,  15.  It 
is  supposed  to  have  been  a  flat  metal  dish. 

328.— BALDNESS. 

II,  23.    There    came    forth    little    children    out   of  the    city,    and 
mocked  him,   and  said  unto  him,   Go  up,  thou  bald    head ;    go 
up,  thou  bald   head. 

In  India  the  expression  "  bald-head  "  has  no  special  reference  to  a  lack  of 
hair,  but  is  often  applied  to  men  who  have  an  abundance.  It  is  rather  a 
term  of  contempt,  intended  to  signify  a  mean  and  worthless  fellow. 

The  Hebrews  valued  a  good  head  of  hair,  and  greatly  deprecated  baldness. 
See  Isa.  xv,  2,  and  note. 


III,  11.    Here  is  Elisha  the  son  of  Shaphat,  which  poured  water 
On  the   hands  of  Elijah. 

As  no  knives  or  forks  are  used  in  the  East,  it  is  absolutely  necessary  to 
have  a  plentiful  supply  of  water  for  the  hands  at  the  close  of  every  meal. 



[II  Kings. 

For  this  a  pitcher  and  basin  are  provided.  The  hands  are  held  over  the 
basin  while  a  servant  pours  water  from  the  pitcher.  The  basin  has  a 

double  bottom,  the 
upper  part  of  which 
is  full  of  holes, 

.#  ,-<TSSSK     fi^ISi   ll'i  ilM1;!!'  l!ln          through     which     the 

water  as  soon  as 
used  passes  out  of 
sight  into  the  lower 
part.  From  the  cen 
ter  of  the  bottom 
there  rises  a  small 
projection  which  is 
used  as  a  receptacle 
for  the  soap.  The 
expression  in  the  text, 
"  poured  water  on  the 
hands,"  is  intended 
to  show  that  Elisha 
66.-MODE  oi'  WASHING  HANDS.  performed  the  work 

of  a  servant  for  Elijah.     He  was  Elijah's  assistant  as  well  as  his  disciple. 


Ill,  27.  Then  he  took  his  eldest  son,  that  should  have  reigned 
in  his  stead,  and  offered  him  for  a  burnt  offering  upon  the 

'  The  offering  of  human  sacrifices  is  a  very  ancient  custom,  and  was 
practiced  at  different  times  among  many  nations.  Burder,  in  an  elaborate 
note,  (Oriental  Literature,  No.  570,)  gives  a  long  list  of  nations  who  offered 
human  sacrifices.  Among  these  are  the  Ethiopians,  the  Phenicians,  the 
Scythian?,  the  Egyptians,  the  Chinese,  the  Persians,  the  Indians,  the  Gauls, 
the  Goths,  the  Carthaginians,  the  Britons,  the  Arabians,  and  the  Romans. 
These  sacrifices  were  offered  in  various  ways.  Some  were  slaughtered  by 
the  knife;  some  were  drowned;  some  were  burned;  some  were  buried 
alive.  In  some  instances,  as  in  the  case  recorded  in  the  text,  parents 
sacrificed  their  own  offspring.  The  idolatrous  Israelites  followed  the 
example  of  their  Phenician  neighbors  in  this  respect.  See  Jer.  xix,  5.  Allu 
sion  is  made  to  this  custom  in  Micah  vi,  7. 

A  few  years  since  an  inscription  was  discovered  in  Behistun,  which, 
according  to  the  rendering  of  Professor  Grotefend  of  Hanover,  contained  an 
offer  of  Nebuchadnezzar  to  let  his  son  be  burned  to  death  in  order  to  ward 
off  the  affliction  of  Babylon.— SAVILE'S  Truth  of  the  Bible,  p.  281. 

H  Kings.] 




IV,  1.  The  creditor  is  come  to  take  unto  him  my  two  sons  to 
be  bondmen. 

The  Mosaic  law  gave  the  creditor  the  right  to  claim  the  person  and  children 
of  the  debtor  who  could  not  pay,  that  they  might  serve  him  until  the  year  of 
Jubilee,  when  they  again  became  free.  See  Lev.  xxv,  39-41.  Reference  is 
made  to  this  custom  in  Neh.  v,  5,  8  ;  Job  xxiv,  9 ;  Isa.  1,  1. 

There  was  a  similar,  though  severer,  law  among  other  nations,  who  are 
supposed  to  have  derived  the  idea  from  the  Hebrews.  See  Matt,  xviii,  25. 

332.— VESSEL  FOR  OIL. 

IV,  2.  She  said,  Thine  handmaid  hath  not  any  thing  in  the 
house,  save  a  pot  of  oil. 

AsuJc,  pot,  is  supposed  to  have  been  an  earthen  jar,  deep  and  narrow, 
with  a  pointed  bottom  winch  was  inserted  into  a 
stand  of  wood  or  stone,  or  stuck  into  the  ground 
like  the  Roman  and  Egyptian  amphora.  Phillott 
(SMITH'S  Dictionary  of  the  Bible,  s.  v.  POT)  thinks 
that  the  asuk  had  no  handles,  while  the  ampliora, 
had  a  handle  on  eacli  side.  Amphorce  were  used 
for  containing  or  carrying  oil,  wine,  or  water. 
Though  usually  of  earthenware,  they  were  some 
times  made  of  metal.  The  "pitcher  "  referred  to 
in  Markxiv,  13,  and  in  Luke  xxii,  10,  is  supposed 
to  have  been  an  amphora. 


IV,  10.  Let  us  make  a  little  chamber,  I  pray  thee,  on  the  wall ; 
and  let  us  set  for  him  there  a  bed,  and  a  table,  and  a  stool, 
and  a  candlestick. 

1.  The  aliyah,  "chamber,"  is  an  upper  room  of  an  Eastern  house,  be 
ing  sometimes  built  on  the  roof,  and  sometimes  making  a  second  story  to 
the  porch,  to  which  it  has  access  by  stairs.  It  is  hence  called  in  2  Sam. 
xviii,  33,  "  the  chamber  over  the  gate."  See  note  on  that  text.  In  the  text 
it  is  called  a  chamber  "  in  the  wall,"  probably  because  its  window,  opening 
to  the  street,  made  a  break  in  the  dead  wall,  and  was  thus  about  the  only 
evidence  to  an  outside  spectator  of  the  existence  of  rooms  in  the  house.  It 
is  usually  well  furnished,  and  kept  as  a  room  for  the  entertainment  of 
honored  guests.  Thus  the  Shunammite  entertained  Elisha,  as  related  in  the 
text.  It  was  in  such  a  room  that  Elijah  dwelt  in  Zarephath  at  the  house  of 
the  widow.  1  Kings  xvii,  19,  23.'  In  the  first  of  these  two  verses  we  have 
the  word  "  loft  "  as  a  'translation  of  the  word  alii/ah,  thus  conveying  tc 

67. — AMPHORAE. 

172  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [n  Kings. 

many  minds  the  idea  of  a  bare,  desolate  garret,  which  is  very  far  from  the 
fact.  Further  than  this.  Dr.  Thomson  suites  that  the  poorer  kind  of  houses 
have  no  aliyah,  which  leads  him  to  the  conclusion  "  that  this  widow  woman 
was  not  originally  among  the  very  poorest  classes,  but  that  her  extreme 
destitution  was  owing  to  the  dreadful  famine  which  then  prevailed." — I7ie 
Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  i,  p.  235. 

Such  a  room  makes  a  desirable  place  of  retirement  for  the  master  of  the 
house.  Ahaziah  was  in  an  aliyah,  in  his  palace  of  Samaria,  when  he  fell 
through  the  lattice-work  of  the  window  and  injured  himself.  2  Kings  i,  2. 
Eglon,  King  of  Moab,  was  in  a  room  of  this  description  when  he  was  assas 
sinated  by  Ehud.  Judges  iii,  20.  Aliyah  is  in  tbis  text  rendered  "summer 
parlor :  "  the  marginal  reading  is  "  a  parlor  of  cooling."  Doubtless  the  latticed 
windows  were  so  arranged  as  to  keep  the  room  us  cool  and  comfortable  as 

It  was  on  the  roof  of  an  aliyah  in  the  palace  of  Ahaz  that  the  kings  of 
Judah  had  erected  altars  for  idolatrous  worship.  2  Kings  xxiii,  12.  It  was 
in  an  aliyah  where,  in  the  midst  of  idolaters,  Daniel  prayed  three  times  daily 
to  the  one  true  God.  Dan.  vi,  10.  Aliyoth  are  also  referred  to  in  Jer.  xxii, 
13,  14,  and  in  Psa.  civ,  3,  13,  where  the  word  is  most  beautifully  used  in  a 
figurative  sense. 

In  the  New  Testament  the  aliyah  is  referred  to  under  the  name  of  "  upper 
room,"  (vneptiov,  which  is  the  Septuagint  rendering  of  aliyah.)  It  was  in 
such  a  place  that  the  disciples  gathered  immediately  after  the  ascension  of  the 
Saviour.  Acts  i,  13.  In  a  room  of  this  kind  the  corpse  of  Tabitha  or  Dorcas 
was  placed  Here  the  widows  whom  she  had  helped  wept  over  her,  and 
here  Peter  restored  her  to  life.  Acts  ix,  37,  39.  In  a  similar  place,  in  the 
city  of  Troas,  Paul  once  preached  until  midnight.  Acts  xx,  7,  8. 

It  is  also  supposed  by  some  commentators  that  the  "upper  room"  where 
Jesus  ate  the  passover  with  his  disciples  was  a  room  of  this  description. 
Mark  xiv,  15;  Luke  xxii,  12.  Others,  however,  deny  this,  since  imeptiov  is 
not  the  word  used  to  denote  the  room.  See  note  on  Mark  xiv,  15. 

2.  "Stool."  here,  like  "loft"  in  1  Kings  xvii,  19.  seerns  to  indicate  some 
thing  very  rude;  but  in  reality  the  original  word  (kisse)  is  the  very  word 
that  is  used  in  some  other  passages  to  designate  a  throne.  The  seat  for  the 
prophet  was  probably  the  very  best  that  could  be  procured. 


IV,  22.  She  called  unto  her  husband,  and  said,  Send  me,  I 
pray  thee,  one  of  the  young  men,  and  one  of  the  asses,  that 
I  may  run  to  the  man  of  God,  and  come  again. 

Ladies  of  the  higher  class  in  the  East  seldom  walk,. but  almost  always  ri*le 
on  asses,  which  are  there  more  frequently  used  for  riding  than  with  us.  The 

II  Kings.]  EI1JLK    MAXXKHS    AXI)   CUSTOMS.  173 

rider  is  attended  by  a  servant  who  runs  behind,  and,  with  a  whip  or  stick, 
drives  or  goads  the  animal  forward  at  whatever  pace  may  be  desired.  Solo 
mon  is  thought  to  refer  t  >  this  custom  in  Kccles.  x,  5-7. 


IV,  23.  He  said,  Wherefore  wilt  thou  go  to  him  to  day?  it  is 
neither  new  moon,  rior  sabbath. 

The  prophets  were  probably  accustomed  at  the  new  nv>on  arid  on  the  Sib- 
buth-day  to  assemble  the  people  for  in  tniction  and  edification.  The  ques 
tion  of  the  husband  of  the  Shunammite  woman  appears,  theref»re,  to  express 
his  astonishment  that  she  should  go  to  the  prophet  at  a  time  which  was 
neither  new  moon  nor  Sabbath.  The  prophet  Amos  represents  the  greedy, 
sordid  men  of  his  day  as  saying,  "  When  will  the  new  moon  be  gone,  that  we 
mav  sell  corn  ?  and  the  Sabbath,  that  we  may  set  forth  wheat?  "  Amos  viii,  5. 
They  preferred  their  worldly  business  to  the  keeping  of  sacred  days,  or  listen 
ing  to  the  instructions  of  the  men  of  God. 


IV,  26.     Run    now,   I   pray  thee,  to    meet  her,   and  say  unto  her, 
Is  it   well    with    thee?    Is   it  well    with    thy  husband?    Is   it  well 
with   the   child  ?    And  she   answered,    It  is  well. 

These  are  merely  the  custom-  ry  formal  salutations  which  are  so  precisely 
used  by  Orientals.  Dr.  Thomson  says,  "If  you  ask  after  a  person  whom  you 
know  to  be  pick,  the  reply  at  first  will  invariab'y  be  ivell,  thank  God,  even 
when  the  next  sentence  is  to  inform  you  that  he  is  dying." — The  Land  and  the 
Book.  vol.  ii.  p.  177.  The  expression  is  also  used  without  any  reference  to  the 
state  of  one's  health  ;  as  in  verse  28,  when  the  husband  expressed  his  sur 
prise  at  his  wife's  going  to  see  the  prophet  at  that  time,  her  only  answer  was, 
"Well/'  The  salutation  is  the  same  in  form  as  that  of  "Peace,"  so  often 
spoken  of  in  the  Bible.  See  note  on  John  xx,  19. 


V,  13.    When    my   master  goeth   into  the  house   of  Rimmon    to 
worship  there,    and    he    leaneth  on    my   hand. 

1.  Rimmon  is  supposed  to  have  been  a  prominent  deity  of  the  Syrians. 
Traces  of  the  name  are  found  in  Tubrunon,  the  father  of  Benhadad,  king 
of  Syria,  (1  Kings  xv,  18,)  and  perhaps  in  Hadadrimmon.  Zecli.  xii,  11. 
Nothing  definite  is  known  of  this  deity  or  of  the  nature  of  his  worship,  and 
the  derivation  of  the  word  is  uncertain.  Some  suppose  it  to  be  the  applica 
tion  to  a  deity  of  the  word  rimmon.  a  pomegranate.  Stollberg  in  his  History 
of  Rdi<j:on,  (cited  by  R'>senmuller,  Mirytnland,  vol.  hi,  p.  231,)  says  that  the 
Orientals  consider  apples  as  symbols  of  the  sun.  and  on  this  ac  ount  certain 


court  servants  of  the  king  of  Persia  carried  a  staff  with  a  golden  apple  on  the 
point.  Others  derive  the  word  from  ramam,  to  be  high,  or  lifted  up.  Tin's 
again  would  point  to  the  sun ;  and  it  is  highly  probable  that  the  worship  of 
Eimmon  had  some  connection  with  that  adoration  of  the  sun  so  common 
among  the  heathen  nations  of  the  East. 

2.  It  was  probably  a  part  of  the  court  etiquette  that  the  king  should  lean 
on  the  arm  of  one  of  his  chief  officers.  The  king  of  Israel  had  this  custom 
as  well  as  the  king  of  Syria.  2  Kings  vii,  2,  17.  The  Jews  have  a  tradition 
that  two  young  women  waited  on  Esther  when  she  was  queen  of  Persia,  one 
to  hold  up  her  train,  and  the  other  for  her  to  lean  upon. 

338.— THE  CAB. 

VI,  25.    The  fourth  part  of  a  cab  of  dove's  dung  for  five  pieces 
of  silver. 

The  cab  was  a  dry  measure  holding  nearly  two  quarts. 


VII,  1.    To-morrow    about    this    time    shall  a    measure    of    fine 
flour    be   sold  for  a  shekel,   and    two  measures  of  barley  for  a 
shekel,  in  the  gate  of  Samaria. 

The  vicinity  of  the  gate  was  a  convenient  place  for  the  sale  of  produce, 
since  what  was  for  sale  would  be  exposed  to  the  view  of  all  passing  in  or 
out.  Reference  is  made  to  this  in  Neh.  xiii,  20,  21.  Layard.  speaking  of  the 
vaulted  recesses  in  the  gateways  of  Assyrian  cities,  says,  "  Frequently  in  the 
gates  of  cities,  as  at  Mosul,  these  recesses  are  used  as  shops  for  the  sale  of 
wheat  and  barley,  bread  and  grocery." — Nineveh  and  Babylon,  p.  57, 

VIII,    9.     So    Hazael   went    to     meet    him,     and    took   a    present 
•with   him,    even  of  every  good  thing  of  Damascus,    forty   cam 
els'    burden,   and  came  and  stood    before   him. 

There  is  no  reason  to  suppose,  as  some  commentators  have  done,  that 
these  camels  were  loaded  with  all  that  they  could  carry  "of  every  good 
thing  of  Damascus."  It  was  merely  the  Oriental  desire  for  display  which 
sent  the  forty  camels.  No  doubt  the  royal  present  was  really  valuable,  but 
the  different  articles  of  which  it  was  composed  were  probably  so  distributed 
that  each  camel  had  but  a  small  portion,  and  thus  a  caravan  was  brought 
into  use.  Maillet  (cited  by  Harmer,  vol.  ii,  p.  313)  says,  speaking  of 
bridal  presents,  "Through  ostentation,  they  never  fail  to  load  upon  four  or 
five  horses  what  might  easily  be  carried"  by  one;  in  like  manner,  as  to  the 
jewels,  trinkets,  and  other  things  of  value,  they  place  in  fifteen  dishes  what 
a  single  plate  would  very  well  hold." 

II  Kings.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  .   175 

Probably  the  present  which  the  children  of  Israel  sent  to  Eglon,  king  of 
Moab,  was  accompanied  with  a  similar  parade.  It  is  said  of  Ehud  that 
*  when  he  had  made  an  end  to  offer  the  present,  he  sent  away  the  people 
,  that  bare  the  present."  Judges  iii,  18.  This  indicates  that  a  number  of 
persons  were  called  into  requisition  to  convey  the  gift.  It  is  said  to  be  a 
custom  in  Persia,  when  a  present  is  brought  to  the  king,  not  to  permit  any 
person  to  carry  more  than  one  article,  no  matter  how  small  it  may  be. 

341.— OIL  VESSEL. 

I    IX,  1.    Gird    up    thy    loins,     and    take    this     box    of    oil  in   thine 
hand,   and  go  to  Ramoth-gilead. 

We  have  no  account  of  the  material  or  shape  of  the^afc,  which  is  here 
called  "  box,"  and  in  1  Sam.  x,  1,  "vial."  Gesenius  derives  it  frompakuh, 
"  to  drop."  This  would  seem  to  indicate  a  flask  with  a  narrow  mouth,  from 
which  oil  or  perfumery  might  be  dropped.  Such  flasks  have  been  found 
among  Egyptian  and  Assyrian  remains. 


IX,  30.  When  Jehu,  was  come  to  Jezreel,  Jezebel  heard  of  it ; 
and  she  painted  her  face,  and  tired  her  head,  and  looked  out 
at  a  window. 

This  is  literally,  "put  her  eyes  in  paint,"  and  alludes  to  the  very  ancient 
custom,  still  observed  in  the  PJast,  of  coloring  the  eyes  with  a  black  powder 
called  kohl.  Graham  says:  "It  is  probable  that  stibium  or  antimony  was 
formerly  used  for  this  purpose,  and  in  some  places  it  may  be  so  used  still, 
especially  for  painting  the  edges  of  the  eyelids.  Kohl,  the  substance  now 
in  general  use  for  blackening  the  eyes  and  the  eyebrows,  is  produced  by 
burning  Uban,  u  kind  of  frankincense,  and  by  burning  the  shells  of  almonds. 
This  kind  is  merely  ornamental;  but  the  kohl,  formed  from  the  powder  of 
the  ore  of  lead,  is  used  as  much  for  its  supposed  medicinal  as  its  beautifying 
properties.  The  arch  of  the  eyebrow  is  much  darkened  and  elongated,  and 
the  edges  of  the  eyelids,  both  above  and  below,  tinged  with  the  dark  hues 
of  the  kohl,  which  is  supposed  to  add  to  the  natural  beauty  of  the  counte 
nance  by  the  effects  of  contrast." — The  Jordan  and  the  Rhine,  p.  190. 

In  Jer.  iv,  30  reference  is  made  to  this  practice: 
"Though  thou  rentest  thy  face  with  painting."  The 
marginal  reading  is  eyes,  instead  of  "face,"  and  the 
allusion  is  to  the  effect  of  the  powder  on  the  eye. 
Being  astringent,  it  contracts  the  eyelids,  and  by  con 
trast  of  color  makes  the  white  of  the  eye  look  larger, 
thus  "  rending  "  or  widening  the  eye.  Prov.  vi,  25,  is 
also  supposed  to  allude  to  this  custom ;  and  there  is  a  gg  _Two  STY^S  op 
reference  to  it  in  Ezek.  xxiii,  40.  Some  think  the  EYK  PAINTING. 



[H  Kings. 


practice  \vns  common  as  far  back  as  the  days  of  Job.  from  the  fact  that  one 

of  his  daughters  was  called  Keren-happuch,  that  is,  paint-lorn.    Job  xlii.  14 

The  powder  is  kept  in  glass  vessels, 
and  was  anciently  kept  in  boxes  of 
wood,  stone,  or  pottery  of  various 
shapes;  some  of  them  highly  ornament 
ed,  and  having  from  two  to  five  differ 
ent  compartments.  Several  of  these 
curious  boxes,  brought  from  Egypt,  and 
very  ancient,  are  now  in  the  Abbott 
Collection,  New  York. 

The  kohl  is  applied  to  the  eyelids 
by  a  small  piece  of  wood,  ivory,  or 
silver,  made  for  the  purpose,  and  in 
shape  not  unlike  a  bodkin.  This  is 

moistened  in  rose-water  and  dipped  into  the  black  powder  and  then  drawn 

under  the  eyelids. 


X,  8.  There  came  a  messenger,  and  told,  him,  saying,  They 
have  brought  the  heads  of  the  king's  sons.  And  he  said,  Lay 
ye  them,  in  two  heaps  at  the  entering  in  of  the  gate  until  the 

Beheading  enemies  is  a  very  ancient  custom.  Thus  David  cut  off  the 
head  of  Goliath  and  carried  it  to  Saul.  1  Sam.  xvii,  51,  57.  So  also  the 
Philistines  cut  off  the  head  of  Saul.  1  Sam.  xxxi,  9.  Layard  found  at  Nine 
veh  representations  of  scenes  which  well  illustrate  the  text.  Heads  of  slain 
enemies  are  collected  and  brought  to  the  king,  or  to  the  officer  appointed  to 
take  account  of  their  number.  Morier,  in  his  narrative  of  his  second  journey 
through  Persia,  states  that  prisoners  have  been  known  to  be  put  to  death  in 
cold  blood  in  order  to  increase  the  number  of  heads  of  the  slain  which  are 
deposited  in  heaps  at  the  palace  gate.  Many  such  heaps  of  heads  are  piled 
up  in  Persia.  Sir  William  Ousely,  who  was  in  Persia  in  the  early  part  of  this 
century,  saw  the  remains  of  some  of  these  heaps  on  which  the  skulls  seemed 
to  be  stuck  together  in  a  mass  of  clay  or  mortar.  Similar  accounts  are 
given  by  later  travelers. 


X,  22.  He  said  unto  him  that  was  over  the  vestry,  Bring  forth 
vestments  for  all  the  worshipers  of  Baal.  And  he  brought 
them  forth  vestments. 

Like  the  priests  of  almost  all  nations,  the  priests  of  Baal  had  their  particu 
lar  sacred  robes  which  they  used  only  while  officiating.  They  were  made 

n  Kings.]  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  177 

probably  of  white  byssus,  and  were  kept  in  a  particular  wardrobe  of  tho 
temple  under  the  care  of  some  person  appointed  for  the  purpose. 


XI,  2.  They  hid  him,  even  him  and  his  nurse,  in  the  bed 

Literally,  in  the  chamber  of  beds,  which  was  a  room,  not  for  sleeping,  but 
for  storing  beds,  whence  they  could  be  brought  out  when  needed  for  use. 
Their  place  of  concealment  was  thus  less  likely  to  be  discovered  than  if  they 
had  been  hidden  in  a  mere  sleeping- room.  See  also  2  Chron.  xxii,  11. 


XI,  12.  He  brought  forth  the  king's  son,  and  put  the  crown 
upon  him,  and  gave  him.  the  testimony  ;  and  they  made  him. 
king,  and  anointed  him  ;  and  they  clapped  their  hands,  and 
said,  God  save  the  king. 

"We  have  here  noted  the  most  important  ceremonies  connected  with  the 
coronation  of  a  Hebrew  king.  See  also  2  Chron.  xxiii,  11. 

1.  The  crown  was  put  upon  him.     We  have  no  definite  knowledge  of  the 
shape  of  the  crowns  which  were  worn  by  the  Hebrew  kings.     The  original 
word  used  here  is  the  same  that  is  used  to  denote  the  diadem  of  the  high 
priest,  which  was  a  plate  of  gold  tied  around  the  head  with  a  ribbon.    Kxod. 
xxxix,  30,  31.     Doubtless  there  were  other  forms  of  crowns,  as  other  words 
are  used  in  various  passages. 

2.  They  gave  him  the  "  testimony."     That  is,  they  made  to  him  a  formal 
presentation  of  a  manuscript  roll  of  the  Divine  law,  as  an  indication  that  this 
was  to  be  his  guide  in  administering  the  government. 

3.  They  anointed  him.     This  was  not  done  in  every  case  of  coronation, 
and  from  the  expression  "they  made  him  king,"  which  precedes  the  state- 
merit  of  his  anointing,  it  has  been  inferred  that  the  essential  parts  of  the 
coronation  ceremony  were  those  connected  with  the  crown  and  the  "testi 
mony  ;  "  the  anointing  of  the  founder  of  a  dynasty  being  considered  all  that 
was  necessary  so  long  as  the  succession  was  unbroken  in  his  famil}''.     Saul 
was  thus   anointed,   (1  Sam.  x,    1.)  and  so  also   was   David.    2  Sam.  ii.  4. 
Solomon  was  likewise  anointed,  (1  Kings  i,  39,)  because  there  was  a  proba 
bility  that  his  right  to  the  throne  would  be  disputed  ;  and  Joash,  in  the  text, 
was  anointed  for  the  same  reason.     Anointing  was  a  ceremony  connected 
with  coronation  before  the  Jews  ever  had  a  king,  as  is  evident  from  Judges 
ix,   8,   15.     It  was  by  Divine  command  that  the  people  of  God  adopted  it. 
See  I  Sam.  ix,  16;  x.   1;    1  Kings  i,   34,   39.     From  this  circumstance  the 
king   was  called    "  the  Lord's   anointed."     See    1  Sam.   xii,   3,    5 :    2  Sam. 
i,  14,  16;  Psa.  ii;  2;   Hab.  iii,  13,  etc. 



[H  Kings. 

4.  The  people  then  clapped  their  hands  and  shouted,  "  Live  the  king." 
This  was  their  part  of  the  ceremony,  and  denoted  their  approbation  of  the 
newly  crowned  sovereign.  Mr.  Harmer  ( Observations,  vol.  ii,  p.  433)  calls 
attention  to  the  fact  that  the  Hebrew  text  in  this  place,  and  in  Psa.  xlvii,  1, 
and  Isa.  Iv,  12,  has  hand  instead  of  hands,  as  our  translators  have  it.  He 
suggests  that  a  different  sort  of  clapping  may  have  been  meant  by  this  than 
what  is  ordinarily  understood  by  clapping  hands,  where  one  hand  is  forcibly 
struck  upon  another,  though  that  is  practiced  in  the  East.  He  refers  to  an 
Oriental  custom  of  striking  the  fingers  of  one  hand  gently  and  rapidly  upon 
the  lips  as  a  token  of  joy,  and  supposes  that  the  expression  clap  the  hand, 
in  distinction  from  clap  the  hands,  refers  to  some  similar  custom  observed 
by  the  Hebrews. 

347.— THE  KING'S  PLACE. 
XI,  14.    The   king  stood  by  a  pillar  as   the   manner  was. 

This  "pillar"  was  some  prominent  place  which  the  king  was  in  the  habit 
of  occupying  in  the  temple.  It  is  also  referred  to  in  2  Kings  xxiii,  3.  It  is 
said  in  2  Chron.  xxxiv,  31,  that  king  Josiah  "stood  in  his  place."  The  same 

word  is  there  used  that  is  here  rendered 
"  pillar."  It  is  supposed  to  have  been 
an  elevated  stand  or  platform,  and  some 
commentators  think  it  identical  with  the 
brazen  scaffold  which  Solomon  built  in 
the  center  of  the  temple  court.  See 
2  Chron.  vi.  13;  xxiii,  13. 

34§.— BOW  AND  ARROWS. 

XIII,  15.  Elisha  said  unto  him, 
Take  bow  and  arrows.  And  he 
took  unto  him  bow  and  arrows. 

1.  The  bow  is  a  very  ancient  weapon, 
and  early  mem  ion  is  made  of  it  in 
the  Bible.  Ishmael  became  an  archer. 
Gen.  xxi,  20.  Isaac  sent  Esau  to  get 
venison  by  means  of  the  bow.  Gen. 
xxvii,  3.  It  also  came  into  early  use 
as  a  weapon  of  war.  Gen.  xlviii,  22. 
Bows  were  made  of  various  materials : 
wood,  horn,  and  even  ivory,  were  used. 
Sometimes  the  wood  and  horn  were 

-ASSYRIAN  AND        «          united    in    the    b°W'    the    W°°d    being 
QUIVERS  AND  Bows.         backed  with  horn.     Metallic  bows  were 

n  Kings.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  179 

also  used.  See  Job  xx,  24 ;  Psa.  xviii,  34.  Bows  were  of  various  shapes. 
The  Egyptian  bow — a  round  piece  of  wood  from  five  feet  to  five  and  a 
ralf  long — was  either  nearly  straight,  with  a  slight  curve  at  each  end,  or 
else  showed  a  deep  curve  in  the  center  when  unstrung. 

Assyrian  bows  were  sometimes  curved  and  sometimes  angular.  They 
were  shorter  than  the  Egyptian  bows.  The  strings  of  ancient  bows  were 
of  leather  thongs,  horse  hair,  hide,  or  catgut.  Various  modes  were  adopted 
for  bending  the  bow,  the  hand,  the  knee,  or  the  foot  being  used.  It  was 
probably  most  usually  bent  by  the  aid  of  the  foot,  since  darak,  the  word 
commonly  used  in  speaking  of  bending  the  bow,  literally  means  to  "tread." 

2.  The  arrows  were  made  of  reed  or  wood  and  tipped  with  metal  or  horn. 
They  were  sometimes  feathered,  though  not  always.  From  Psa.  xxxviii,  2, 
we  infer  that  they  sometimes  had  barbed  points. 


XIII,  17.  He  said,  Open  the  window  eastward.  And  he  opened 
it.  Then  Elisha  said,  Shoot.  And  he  shot. 

This  was  an  ancient  method  of  declaring  war,  and  is  often  referred  to  in 
ancient  and  classical  writings.  A  herald  came  to  the  confines  of  the  enemy's 
territory,  and,  after  observing  certain  solemnities,  cried  with  a  loud  voice,  "I 
wage  war  against  you,"  at  the  same  time  assigning  the  reasons  for  the  war. 
He  then  shot  an  arrow  or  threw  a  spear  into  the  country  to  be  invaded, 
which  was  considered  sufficient  warning  of  warlike  intentions.  Thirty  days 
were  allowed  for  peaceable  settlement;  if  no  such  settlement  was  reached 
during  that  time,  hostilities  began  at  the  expiration  of  it. 


XIII.  21.  It  came  to  pass,  as  they  were  burying  a  man,  that, 
behold,  they  spied  a  band  of  men  ;  and  they  east  the  man 
into  the  sepuleher  of  Elisha :  and  when  the  man  was  let 
down,  and  touched  the  bones  of  Elisha,  he  revived,  and  stood 
up  on  his  feet. 

To  understand  this  text  fully,  it  is  necessary  to  remember  that  among  the 
Israelites  the  dead  were  not  buried  in  coffins  as  with  us.  The  Egyptians 
sometimes  usad  coffins,  (see  note  on  Gen.  1,  26 ;)  but  the  Israelites,  who 
brought  many  Egyptian  customs  with  them  into  Palestine,  did  not  adopt  this 
custom.  They  wrapped  their  dead  in  linen  cloths  and  laid  them  in  the  tomb. 
See  note  on  John  xix,  40.  Thus  the  man  mentioned  in  the  text  was  about 
to  be  buried  when  hU  friends  saw  the  Moabites.  Seeing  that  they  could  not 
reach  the  grave  prepared  for  him  without  being  perceived  by  the  enemy, 
they  quickly  rolled  away  the  stone  from  Elisha's  sepuleher,  near  which  they 
were,  and  put  the  corpse  there.  As  there  was  no  coffin  for  either  body,  the 
body  of  the  newly  dead  couM  easily  touch  U'O  bones  of  tin  buried  prophet. 


XVII,  30,  31.  The  men  of  Babylon  made  Sueeoth-benoth,  and 
the  men  of  Cuth  made  Nergal,  and  the  men  of  Hamath  made 
Ashima.  And  the  Avites  made  Nibhaz  and  Tartak,  and  the 
Sepharvites  burnt  their  children  in  fire  to  Adrammeleeh  and 
Anammeleeh,  the  gods  of  Sepharvaim. 

1.  The  precise  meaning  of  Succoth-benoth  is  not  known.     Its  literal  signifi 
cation  is,  "  booths  of  the  daughters ;  "  and  it  is  supposed  to  be,  not  the  name  of 
a  god,  but  of  places  where  women  abandoned  themselves  to  impure  rites  con 
nected  with  the  worship  of  Babylonian  deities.     Sir  H.  Rawlinson  believes 
that  the  word  represents  the  Chaldee  goddess  Zir-banit,  worshiped  at  Baby 
lon  and  called  queen  of  the  place.     Gesenius  suggests  that  "  perhaps  it  should 
read  Succoth-bamoth,  the  bootJis  in  high  places,  consecrated  to  idols." 

2.  Nergal  was  a  well-known  Assyrian  deity.     The  word  signifies  "great 
man"  or  "hero."     He  is  called  by  various  names  on  the  monuments:   "the 
great  brother;  "  "the  storrn  ruler;"  "the  god  of  battles;  "  "the  god  of  the 
chase."     The  last  is  his  principal  title,  and  he  seems  to  have  been  the  chief 
patron  of  hunting,  which  fact  has  led  some  to  believe  that  he  represented  the 
deified  hero  Nimrod.     The  name  of  Nergal  often  appears  on  Assyrian  seals 
and  cylinders,  and  his  symbol  was  a  man-lion,  or  human-headed  lion  with 
eagle's  wings.     Astronomically,  Nergal  corresponds  to  Mars. 

3.  Ashima  was  a  god  of  the  people  of  Hamath.     The  majority  of  Jew 
ish  writers  assert  that  this  deity  was  worshiped  under  the  form  of  a  goat 
without  wool;  others  say  under  the  form  of  a  lamb.     The  goat  is  found 
among   sacred   animals    on   Babylonian    monuments.      This    would    make 
Ashima  correspond  to  the  Egyptian  Mendes  and  the  Greek  Pan.     It  is  also 
supposed  by  some  writers  that  Ashima  was  the  same  as  the  Phenician  god 
Esmun,  the  Phenician  Esculapius,  to  whom  were  also  attributed  the  charac 
teristics  of  Pan. 

4.  Nibhaz  was  a  god  of  the  Avites,  but  nothing  is  known  with  certainty 
of  the  peculiarities  of  the  deity  or  the  shape  of  the  idol.     The  Hebrew  inter 
preters  say  that  the  idol  was  in  the  form  of  a  man  with  the  head  of  a  dog. 
The  Egyptians  worshiped  the  dog,  and,  according  to  some  writers,  their  god 
Anubis  was  represented  by  a  man  with  a  dog's  head,  though  Wilkinson 
asserts  that  the  head  is  that  of  a  jackal.     The  family  relation  of  the  two 
animals  is,  however,  sufficiently  near  for  the  purposes  of  idolatry. 

5.  Tartak  was  another  Avite  deity.      Some  Jewish  writers  suppose  the 
idol  to  have  been  in  the  form  of  an  ass;  but  others  assert  that  this  is  mere 
conjecture,    and  that  the  name,  which  they  render  hero  of  darkness,    has 
reference  to  some  planet  of  supposed   malign   influence,   sunh  as  Mars  or 

6.  Adrammeleeh  was  a  god  of  the  Sepharvites,  and  is  supposed  to  be  iden- 

n  Kings.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND    CUSTOMS.  181 

(ical  with  Molech,  for  a  description  of  which  deity  see  note  on  Lev.  xviii,  21. 
Rawlinson  identifies  Adrammelech  with  the  Chaldean  god  San  or  Sansi. 

7.  Anammelech  was  also  a  god  of  the  Sepharvites.  No  satisfactory 
etymology  of  the  name  has  been  found.  Some  suppose  this  deity  to  be  re 
presented  by  the  Arabian  constellation  Gepheus,  containing  the  shepherd  and 
the  sheep.  Some  authorities  give  the  idol  the  figure  of  a  horse,  others  that 
of  a  pheasant  or  a  quail.  Human  sacrifices  were  offered  to  this  god  as  well 
as  to  Adrammelech. 


XVIII,  11.  The  king  of  Assyria  did  carry  away  Israel  unto 
Assyria,  and  put  them  in  Halah  and  in  Habor  by  the  river 
of  Gozan,  and  in  the  cities  of  the  Medes. 

The  practice  of  carrying  into  captivity  all  the  inhabitants  of  a  city  or  of  a 
section  of  country  was  in  use  by  the  Assyrians  from  a  very  early  period  of 
their  history,  and  is  frequently  referred  to  and  illustrated  on  their  monu 
ments.  "  In  the  most  flourishing  period  of  their  dominion — the  reigns  of 
Sargon,  Sennacherib,  and  Esar-haddon — it  prevailed  m<  st  widely,  and  was  car 
ried  to  the  greatest  extent.  Chaldeans  were  transported  into  Armenia ;  Jews 
and  Israelites  into  Assyria  and  Media;  Arabians,  Babylonians,  Lusianians, 
and  Persians  into  Palestine — the  most  distant  portions  of  the  empire  changed 
inhabitants,  and  no  sooner  did  a  people  become  troublesome  from  its  patriot 
ism  and  love  of  independence  than  it  was  weakened  by  dispersion,  and  its 
spirit  subdued  by  a  severance  of  all  its  social  associations." — RAWLIXSON, 
Five  Great  Monarchies,  vol.  ii,  p.  238. 

Tiglath  Pileser  carried  a  large  number  of  captives  to  Assyria  twenty 
years  before  the  captivity  referred  to  in  the  text.  See  2  Kings  xv,  29.  Eight 
years  after  this  Sennacherib  took  "the  fenced  cities  of  Judah."  2  Kings 
xviii,  115.  An  account  of  this  event  is  given  on  one  of  the  Assyrian  monu 
ments.  The  king  claims  to  have  carried  away  over  two  Hundred  thousand 
of  the  inhabitants.  More  than  a  hundred  years  "after  this  Nebuchadnezzar, 
king  of  Bab.ylon,  invaded  Judea,  and  by  several  distinct  deportations  carried 
the  people  into  captivity.  See  2  Kings  xxiv,  14;  xxv,  11;  2  Chron. 
xxxvi,  20;  Jer.  lii,  28-30. 


XVIII,  82.  A  land  of  corn  and  wine,  a  land  of  bread  and. 
vineyards,  a  land  of  oil  olive  and  of  honey. 

An  American  missionary  in  Turkey  states  that  in  some  districts  grapes 
are  so  plentiful  th*t,  with  oil  and  bread,  they  form  the  chief  nourishment 
of  the  people.  Thus  it  was,  according  to  the  text,  in  Palestine  and  in  As 
syria  in  the  days  of  Hezekiah.  Each  was  "  a  land  of  bread  and  vineyards." 

The  same  writer,  in  speaking  of  the  various  uses  of  the  grape  as  a  staple 
food  of  the  people,  enumerates  fifteen  different  articles  made  from  that  fruit. 


Among  them  are  preserves,  jellies,  and  confectionery,  made  of  the  fresh 
juice;  pickles,  molasses,  and  sugar;  besides  wine  and  brandy,  and  other 
more  familiar  preparations.  See  Bibliotheca  Sacra,  vol.  v,  pp.  283,  287. 


XVIII,  34      Where    are    the    gods    of    Hamath,    and    of   Arpad  ? 
where  are  the   gods  of  Sepharvaim,    Hena,   and   Ivah? 

The  Assyrian  monuments  give  evidence  of  a  custom  which  illustrates  the 
haughty  language  of  this  text.  It  was  the  practice  of  Assyrian  conquerors 
to  take  the  idols  which  they  found  in  the  temples  of  the  people  whom  they 
subdued  and  convey  them  to  Assyria,  where  they  were  assigned  a  place  in 
Assyrian  temples  as  captive  gods.  Hence  Sennacherib  spoke  to  the  Jews  by 
his  embassador  informing  them  that  the  Assyrian  deity  was  so  powerful  that 
none  other  could  cope  with  him.  The  gods  of  all  other  people  against  whom 
the  Assyrians  had  fought  had  been  captured,  and  it  was  in  vain  for  the  Jews 
to  expect  their  god  to  save  them. 

355.— NISROCH. 

XIX,  87.      As  he  was   worshiping    in  the    house  of   Nisroeh   his 

Nisroeh  was  an  idol  of  Nineveh,  concerning  which  there  have  been  vari 
ous  conjectures.  The  rabbins  affirmed  that  it  was  made  out  of  one  of  the 
planks  of  Noah's  ark.  Others  supposed  it  to  be  an  image  of  the  dove  which 
Noah  sent  out  from  the  ark.  Some  have  thought  the  planet  Saturn  to  be 
represented  by  it.  and  some  the  constellation  of  the  eagle.  Others  have  sup 
posed  Nisroeh  to  be  a  representation  of  Asshur,  the  deified  patriarch  and 
head  of  the  Assyrian  pantheon. 

These  various  opinions  are  sufficient  to  show  the  obscurity  connected  with 
the  subject.  The  etymology  ot  the  word,  which  occurs  only  here  and  in 
Isa.  xxxvii,  38,  is  uncertain.  Some  philologists  think  that  Nisroeh  is  not  a 
correct  reading,  while  others  suppose  the  word  to  mean  the  great  eagle.  This 
bird  was  held  in  great  veneration  by  the  ancient  Persians,  and  was  also 
worshiped  by  the  Arabians  before  the  time  of  Mohammed.  From  the  fre 
quent  appearance  on  the  Assyrian  sculptures  of  a  human  figure  with  the 
head  of  an  eagle  or  a  hawk,  Layard  conjectured  that  this  was  the  repre 
sentation  of  Nisroeh,  and  this  has  so  often  been  asserted  that  many  imagine 
that  whenever  they  see  a  picture  of  one  of  these  hawk-headed  figures  they 
see  a  picture  of  Nisroeh.  Rawlinson,  however,  asserts  the  contrary,  and 
pays  that  the  hawk-headed  figure  is  more  like  a  subordinate  character,  an 
attendant  genius,  than  a  god.  No  name  of  any  god  has  yet  been  discovered 
on  the  monuments  which  bears  any  resemblance  to  Nisroeh. 

II  Kings.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND    CUSTOMS.  183 

356.  —SUN-DIALS. 

XX,  11.  Isaiah  the  prophet  cried,  unto  the  Lord  :  and  he 
brought  the  shadow  ten  degrees  backward,  by  which  it  had. 
gone  down  in  the  dial  of  Ahaz. 

Maaloth,  "dial,"  is  the  same  word  that  is  rendered  "degrees"  in  this 
verse,  and  "  stairs  "  in  2  Kings  ix,  13.  This  and  the  parallel  passage  in  Isa. 
xxxviii,  8,  are  the  only  places  where  the  word  "dial"  occurs.  Our  trans 
lators  probably  judged  correctly  in  supposing  from  the  context  that  by 
maaloth  in  this  place  some  instrument  for  measuring  time  is  meant;  but 
what  was  its  peculiar  shape  is  left  to  conjecture.  The  Babylonians  were 
doubtless  the  originators  of  the  sun-dial.  Herodotus  states  that  the  Greeks 
derived  it  from  them,  (Euterpe,  chap,  cix;)  and  it  is  highly  probable  that 
king  Ahaz,  after  whom  this  dial  in  the  palace  court  was  named,  obtained  the 
idea  from  Babylon. 

Some  think  this  dial  was  a  hemispherical  cavity  in  a  horizontal  square  stone, 
with  the  gnomon  in  the  middle,  the  shadow  of  which,  falling  on  different 
lines  cut  in  the  hollow  surface,  marked  the  hours  of  the  day.  Others  imagine 
a  vertical  index  surrounded  by  twelve  concentric  lines.  It  may  have  been, 
as  some  suppose,  a  pillar  set  up  in  an  open  elevated  place,  with  encircling 
steps  on  which  the -shadows  fell;  or  stairs  so  constructed  that  the  shadow 
of  an  obelisk  or  of  a  gnomon  on  the  top  platform  might  indicate  the  hours. 

The  '"degrees,"  however,  must  have  marked  shorter  periods  than  hours, 
since  ten  forward  and  ten  backward  are  spoken  of  as  onlv  a  part  of  the 
whole  number  of  degrees.  See  KEIL,  Commentary,  in  loco. 

It  has  been  suggested  that  the  "stairs"  from  wlrch  Jehu  was  proclaimed 
king,  as  recorded  in  2  Kings  ix,  13,  were  the  same  as  the  "dial  "  of  Ahaz. 
As  already  noted,  the  same  word,  manlnth,  represents  both.  The  idea  is  that 
Jehu  was  taken  up  the  different  steps  of  the  dial  until  he  reached  the  top 
pla'form,  where  he  was  placed  by  the  side  of  the  gnomon,  when  the  trumpets 
were  blown  and  the  formal  announcement  was  made,  "Jehu  is  king."  See 
CLARKE,  Commentary  on  2  Kings  ix,  13. 


XX,  13.  Hezekiah  hearkened  unto  them,  and  showed  them 
all  the  house  of  his  precious  things,  the  silver,  and  the  gold, 
and  the  spices,  and  the  precious  ointment,  and  all  the  house 
of  his  armor,  and  all  that  was  found  in  his  treasures. 

It  has  long  been  the  custom  for  Eastern  princes  to  amass  great  quantities 
of  treasure  merely  for  ostentation.  The  kings  of  Judah  may  have  had  a 
similar  custom.  Burder  (Oriental  Customs,  No.  433)  tells  of  the  treasure  of 
an  Eastern  monarch  which  was  so  immense  that  two  unusually  large  cellars 
or  warehouses  were  not  sufficient  to  hold  it.  It  consisted  of  precious  stones, 


184  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [n  Kings. 

plates  of  gold,  and  gold  coin  enough  to  load  a  hundred  mules.  It  had  been 
collected  by  twelve  of  his  predecessors,  and  it  was  said  that  he  had  in  Ins 
treasury  a  coffer  three  spans  long  and  two  broad  full  of  precious  stones  of 
incalculable  value. 


XXIII,  11.  He  took  away  the  horses  that  the  kings  of  Judah 
had  given  to  the  sun. 

Allusion  is  here  made  to  a  peculiar  form  of  sun-worship.  Among  the 
Persians  horses  were  considered  sacred  to  the  sun.  The  king  of  Persia 
when  he  sacrificed  offered  a  white  horse  to  that  luminary.  The  people,  when 
they  wished  to  sacrifice  to  the  sun,  mounted  their  horses  in  the  early  morn 
ing  and  rode  toward  the  rising  orb  as  if  to  salute  it,  and  then  offered  the 
noble  victims  to  it  in  sacrifice.  See  GALE'S  Court  of  the  Gentiles,  book  ii, 
chap,  viii,  p.  115. 

The  kings  of  Judah  had  evidently  heard  of  this  custom,  and  imitated  it: 
though  some  commentators  doubt  that  they  actually  slew  the  animals,  sup 
posing  that  they  simply  went  in  state  in  the  early  morning  to  see  the  sun  rise 
and  to  adore  it.  Home  have  even  imagined  that  these  horses  were  not  real,  but 
merely  statues,  made  of  wood,  stone,  or  metal,  which  stood  at  the  entrance 
of  the  temple.  The  mention  made  of  the  "  chariots  of  the  sun  "  in  the  latter 
part  of  the  verse  seems,  however,  to  indicate  that  living  animals  were 
intended,  and  that  they  were  harnessed  to  these  chariots.  Whether  they 
were  really  sacrificed  or  not,  they  were  kept  and  u-ed  for  idolatrous  purposes. 
and  therefore  became  proper  subjects  of  confiscation. 


XXIII,  IT.  He  said,  What  title  is  that  that  I  see  ?  And  the  men 
of  the  city  told  him,  It  is  the  sepuleher  of  the  man  of  God. 

This  refers  to  the  custom  of  marking  the  graves  of  the  dead  by  some  dis 
tinguishing  sign.  The  word  here  rendered  "title ;)  is  the  same  that  in  Ezek. 
xxxix,  15,  is  rendered  "  sign."  It  means  a  pillar  set  up  to  designate  a  grave, 
and  served  the  twofold  purpose  of  a  tablet  for  an  epitaph,  and  also  as  a  sign 
to  warn  all  passers-by  lest  they  should  become  ceremonially  unclean  by 
touching  the  grave.  The  absence  of  any  such  sign  is  what  is  referred  to  in 
Luke  xi,  44:  "Woe  unto  you,  scribes  and  Pharisees,  hypocrites!  for  ye  are 
as  graves  which  appear  not,  and  the  men  tnat  walk  over  them  are  not  aware 
of  them." 

Dr.  Shaw  says  of  the  cemeteries  in  Barbary:  "The  graves  are  all  dis 
tinct  and  separate ;  each  of  them  having  a  stone,  placed  upright,  both 
at  the  head  and  feet,  inscribed  with  the  name  of  the  deceased. — Travels, 
p.  219. 





XXV,  7.  They  slew  the  sons  of  Zedekiah  before  his  eyes,  and 
put  out  the  eyes  of  Zedekiah,  and  bound  him  with  fetters  of 
brass,  and  carried  him  to  Babylon.  See  also  Jer.  xxxix,  7 ;  111,  11. 

1.  Blinding  has  long  been  a  common 
Oriental  punishment.  See  Judg.  xvi,  21  ; 
1  Sam.  xi,  2.  In  Persia,  during  the  titre 
of  tho  younger  Cyrus,  men  deprived  of 
their  sight  for  crimes  were  a  common 
spectacle  along  the  highway.  This  pen 
alty  is  still  inflicted  by  the  Persians  on 
princes  who  are  declared  to  have  forfeit 
ed  their  right  to  the  throne.  Chardin 
states  that  one  mode  of  blinding  was  by 
passing  a  red-hot  copper  plate  before  the 
eyes.  This  did  not  always  produce  total 
blindness,  and  sometimes  the  point  of  a 
dagger  or  of  a  spear  was  thrust  into  the 
eye.  The  Babylonians  and  the  Assyri 
ans,  as  well  as  the  Persians,  made  use 


of  the  same  cruel  punishment.  Frequent  representations  of  it  are  found 
on  the  ancient  sculptures.  The  engraving  represents  part  of  a  scene  from 
a  marble  slab  discovered  at  Khorsabad.  The  Assyrian  king  has  several 
prisoners  brought  before  him  to  be  blinded.  In  his  left  hand  he  holds  the 
cords  at  the  end  of  which  are  hooks  inserted  in  the  prisoner's  lips.  See 
note  on  Isa.  xxxvii,  29.  In  his  right  hand  is  a  spear,  which  he  thrusts  into 
the  eyes 

2.  Fetters  were  of  various  shapes  and  materials.     Those  which  were  put 
on  Zedekiah  were  made  of  brass  or  copper ;  so  also  were  those  with  which 

Smison  was  fastened. 
Judges  xvi,  21.  There 
is  in  the  Britisli  Mu 
seum  a  p'tir  of  bronze 
fetters,  brought  from 
Nineveh,  wh  ch  weigh 
72.-BBONZK  FETTERS  FROM  NINEVHI.  eight  pounds  eleven 

ounces,  and  measure  sixteen  and  a  half  inches  in  length  These  probably 
resemble  the  fetters  put  on  Zedukiah.  ''The  rings  which  inclose  the  ankles 
are  thinner  than  the  other  part,  so  that  they  could  be  hammered  smaller 
after  the  feet  had  been  passed  through  them.  One  of  these  rings  has  been 
broken,  and  when  whole  the  fetters  may  have  weiglied  about  nine  pounds." 
— SHARPE'S  Bible  Texts  Illustrated. 

186  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.        [I  Chronicles. 



II,  34,  35.  Now  Sheshan  had  no  sons,  but  daughters.  And 
Sheshan  had  a  servant,  an  Egyptian,  -whose  name  was  Jarha. 
And  Sheshan  gave  his  daughter  to  Jarha  his  servant  to  wife. 

According  to  the  Mosaic  law,  daughters  were  not  to  be  married  out  of  tlio 
tribe  to  which  they  belonged.  This  was  commanded  in  order  to  keep  the 
inheritance  of  each  tribe  to  itself.  See  Numbers,  chapter  xxxvi.  In  the 
text,  Sheshan,  who  had  no  sons,  is  represented  as  marrying  his  daughter  to 
an  Egyptian,  and  that  Egyptian  a  servant.  Harmer  states  that  though  this 
may  have  been  contrary  to  the  law  of  Moses,  it  was  in  accordance  with  a 
custom  frequently  practiced  in  the  East.  He  quotes  from  one  of  Maillet's 
letters,  in  which  an  account  is  given  of  one  Hassan,  who  had  been  a  slave  to 
Kamel,  the  "  Kiaia  of  the  Asaphs  of  Cairo,  that  is,  colonel  of  four  or  five 
thousand  men  who  go  under  that  name."  "  Kamel,"  says  Maillet,  "accord 
ing  to  the  custom  of  the  country,  gave  him  one  of  his  daughters  in  marriage, 
and  left  him  at  his  death  one  part  of  the  great  riches  he  had  amassed  to 
gether  in  the  course  of  a  long  and  prosperous  life."  He  also  succeeded^  his 
master  in  his  office. — Observations,  vol.  iv,  p.  298. 


X,  9.  They  took  his  head,  and  his  armor,  and  sent  into  the 
land  of  the  Philistines  round  about  to  carry  tidings  unto  their 

The  Hindoos  have  a  custom  corresponding  to  this.  When  they  gain  a 
victory  over  their  enemies  they  carry  the  tidings  to  their  idols  with  great 
pomp  and  ceremony.  In  the  common  affairs  of  life  the  same  practice  is 
resorted  to.  A  man  delivered  from  prison,  or  from  the  wicked  scheme  of  his 
enemies,  always  goes  to  bis  gods  to  carry  the  news.  Roberts  gives  the  fol 
lowing  as  a  specimen  of  the  formal  speech  used  on  such  occasions :  "Ahl 
Swamy,  you  know  Muttoo  wanted  to  ruin  me ;  he  therefore  forged  a  deed  in 
my  name,  arid  tried  to  get  my  estates.  But  I  resisted  him,  and  it  has  just 
been  decided  before  the  court  that  he  is  guilty.  I  am  therefore  come  to 
praise  you,  0  Swamy!" — Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  229. 

363.— STONE-BOWS. 

XII,  2.  They  were  armed  with  bows,  and  could  use  both  the 
right  hand  and  the  left  in  hurling  stones  and  shooting  arrows 
out  of  a  bow. 

Tt  will  be  noticed  that  the  words  hurling  and  shooting  have  beer,  supplied 
bv  the  translators.  Without  them  the  reading  would  be,  "could  use  both 

I  Chronicles.]       BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS*.  187 

the  right  hand  and  the  left  in  stones  and  arrows  out  of  a  bow."  This  has 
led  some  to  think  that  there  was  in  use  among  the  Hebrews  a  kind  of  bow 
for  shooting  stones  as  well  as  arrows;  an  instrument  corresponding  to  the 
stone-bow  in  use  in  the  Middle  Ages.  These  stone-bows  of  David's  men  may 
have  suggested  the  invention,  two  hundred  and  fifty  years  later,  of  the 
heavier  instruments  of  a  similar  character  to  be  used  in  sieges.  See  note 
on  2  Chron.  xxvi,  15. 

364.— AMEN. 
XVI,  86.     All  the  people  said,  Amen,  and  praised  the  Lord. 

Amen  literally  means  firm,  from  aman,  to  prop,  to  support.  Its  figurative 
meaning  is  faithful  Its  use  is  designed  as  a  confirmatory  response,  and  the 
custom  is  very  ancient.  See  Num.  v,  22  ;  Deut.  xxvii,  15-26. 

"  The  Jewish  doctors  give  three  rules  for  pronouncing  the  word : 
1.  That  it  be  not  pronounced  too  hastily  and  swiftly,  but  with  a  grave  and 
distinct  voice.  2.  That  it  be  not  louder  than  the  tone  of  him  that  blessed. 
3.  It  was  to  be  expressed  in  faith,  with  a  certain  persuasion  that  God  would 
bless  them  and  hear  their  prayer."— BURDER,  Oriental  Customs,  No.  438. 

It  is  also  customary  for  the  Mohammedans,  at  the  close  of  every  public 
prayer,  to  say,  Amen. 

365.— THE  HORN. 

XXV,  5.  All  these  were  the  sons  of  Heman  the  king's  seer  in 
the  words  of  God,  to  lift  up  the  horn. 

Some  of  the  earliest  wind  instruments  were  no  doubt  made  of  the  horns 
of  animals,  and  when  afterward  metals  were  used  in  their  manufacture  they 
retained  more  or  less  of  the  original  shape,  and  continued  to  be  called  by  the 
original  name.  The  difference  between  the  keren,  "horn,"  and  the  shophar, 
"trumpet,"  "cornet,"  is  supposed  to  have  been  principally  in  the  shape,  the 
latter  having  less  of  a  curved  shape  than  the  former.  See  note  on  Psa. 
xcviii,  6,  The  keren  is  mentioned  as  a  musical  instrument  in  Josh,  vi,  5,  and 
in  Dan.  Hi,  5,  7,  10,  15.  In  the  passage  in  Daniel  it  is  translated  "cornet." 



VIII,  5.    Also    he   built    Beth-horon  the  upper,  and  Beth-horon 
the  nether,  fenced    cities,    with  walls,   gates,  and  bars. 

1.  Fortifications  are  as  ancient  as  cities  ;  indeed,  some  writers  assert  that 
the  difference,  anciently,  between  cities  and  villages  was  simply  the  differ- 


BIBLE   MANNERS  AXD  CUSTOMS.     [II  Chronicles. 

ence  between  walled  and  unvvalled  towns.  The  Egyptian  arid  Assyrian 
sculptures  contain  representations  of  "  fenced  cities  "  with  walls  of  squared 

stone  or  squared 
timber  on  the  sum 
mit  of  scarped  rocks. 
Some  of  the  fenced 
cities  of  Scripture 
are  thought  to  have 
been  protected  by 
stockades  of  wood. 
Sometimes  there 

78^-WALLS  AND  TOWERS ;   FKOM   BABYLONIAN   COINS.  wflg    ^    ^    ^ 

wall  to  a  fortified  city.  It  was  thus  with  Jerusalem.  See  2  Kings  xxv,  4  ; 
2  Chron.  xxxii,  5.  Sometimes  there  was  a  ditch  outside  the  wall,  and  a  low 
wall  or  rampart  protecting  that.  At  regular  distances  on  the  wall  there  were 
towers  for  the  purposes  of  watching  and  defense.  See  2  Kings  ix,  IT; 
2  Chron.  xxvi,  1 5.  The  gates  were  strongly  protected  with  bolts  or  bars 
of  brass  or  iron.  Sometimes  there  was  built  at  some  central  point  within 
the  city  a  citadel  or  stronghold  which  might  resist  attack  even  after  the  walls 
were  destroyed. 

2.  To  "build"  a  city  often  meant  not  to  give  a  new  town  a  location,  and 
to  erect  the  houses,  but  to  build  walls  around  a  town  already  inhabited.  It 
was  thus  that  Solomon  built  the  two  Beth-horons  mentioned  in  the  text. 
Thus  Rehoboam  "built"  the  cities  named  in  2  Chron.  xi,  5-10.  So  Jero 
boam  "built"  Shechem  and  Penuel,  (1  Kings  xii,  25.)  and  Hiel  "built" 
Jericho,  (1  Kings  xvi,  34.)  a  city  which  had  been  inhabited  long  before. 
Judges  i,  16;  iii,  13. 


XVI,  14.  Laid  him  in  the  bed  which  was  filled  with  sweet 
odors  and  divers  kinds  of  spices  prepared  by  the  apothecaries' 
art:  and  they  made  a  very  great  burning  for  him. 

There  is  a  division  of  opinion  among  commentators  concerning  the  mean 
ing  of  the  last  clause  in  this  verse.  Some  of  the  best  authorities  believe 
that  the  "  very  great  burning  "  was  the  burning  of  the  cdoriferous  substances 
which  were  brought  together.  They  understand  that  a  large  quantity  of 
these  substances  was  collected  and  placed  in  the  sepulcher  of  Asa,  and  that 
after  these  were  burned  the  body  of  the  dead  king  was  laid  upon  the  per 
fumed  ashes,  as  on  a  bed.  This  is  also  referred  to  in  the  promise  which  was 
made  to  Zedekiah  concerning  his  burial.  Jer.  xxxiv,  5.  It  is  likewise 
thought  to  have  been  this  which  was  denied  to  Jehoram,  on  the  occasion  of 
his  death,  because  of  his  wickedness.  2  Chron.  xxi,  19. 

On  the  other  hand,  it  is  asserted  that  burning  spices  and  perfumes  in  this 

n  Chronicles.]      BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  189 

way  for  the  dead  does  not  find  a  parallel  in  the  customs  of  any  nation  ancient 
or  modern;  and  that  these  various  passages  refer  to  the  burning  of  the  body 
together  with  the  spices  on  a  funeral  pile.  Jalin  says,  "  The  ancitnt  Hebrews 
considered  burning  the  body  a  matter  of  very  great  reproach,  and  rarely  did  it 
except  when  they  wished,  together  with  the  greatest  punishment,  to  inflict 
the  greatest  ignominy."  Gen.  xxxviii,  24.  He  considers  the  burning  of 
Saul  and  of  his  sons  (I  Sam.  xxxi,  12)  an  exceptional  instance,  designed  l>y 
their  friends  to  prevent  any  further  indignities  from  the  Philistines.  Tin- 
sentiment  in  reference  to  the  burning  of  bodies  afterward  underwent  a 
change.  A  hundred  and  forty  years  after  Saul's  death  the  body  of  Asa  was 
burnt,  and  the  event  is  spoken  of  by  the  historian  not  as  a  new  thing,  but  as 
a  custom  already  established.  Over  a  cen  ury  later  we  find  the  same  custom 
referred  to.  See  Amos  vi,  10.  In.  time  the  revolution  of  sentiment  became 
so  complete  that  while  burning  was  considered  the  most  distinguished  honor, 
not  to  be  burned  was  regarded  the  mosr,  signal  disgrace,  as  in  the  case  of 
Jehoram  already  mentioned.  Another  change  of  sentiment  eventually  took 
place.  After  the  captivity  the  Jews  conceived  a  great  hatred  to  this  rite, 
and  the  Talmudists  endeavored  to  explain  the  passages  respecting  it  as  refer 
ring  to  the  burning  of  the  aromatic  substances  alone.  See  Jahn's  Arche 
ology,  §  210. 

Roberts  takes  substantially  the  same  view,  and  gives  a  detailed  account 
of  the  Hindoo  method  of  cremation.  The  Hindoos  burn  the  bodies  of  nearly 
all  their  illustrious  dead,  and  it  is  considered  disgraceful  not  to  have  the 
ceremony  performed.  They  first  wash  the  corpse  with  water  mingled  with 
fragrant  oils  and  scented  waters.  The  body  is  then  placed  on  a  bed,  or  on  a 
chariot  covered  with  crimson  cloth,  and  is  carried  on  men's  shoulders  to  the 
place  of  burning.  The  funeral  pile  is  seldom  more  than  five  feet  high,  and 
when  prepared  for  a  great  man  is  made  of  sandal  and  other  aromatic  woods,  to 
which  are  added  sweet  odors  and  spices.  The  body  is  then  placed  on  the 
pile,  and  the  son  or  nearest  relative  has  his  head  shaved.  Then  the  son 
takes  a  torch  and,  turning  his  head  away  from  the  pile,  sets  fire  to  it,  and 
returns  home.  Those  who  remain  to  see  the  corpse  consumed  throw 
clarified  butter  and  oils  on  the  fire  to  hasten  the  combustion.  See  Roberts' 
Oriental.  Illustrations,  p.  234. 


XXV,  12.  Brought  them  unto  the  top  of  the  rock,  and  east  them 
down  from  the  top  of  the  rock,  that  they  all  were  broken  in 

This  was  a  very  ancient  punishment,  practiced  among  different  nations. 
In  Greece,  according  to  the  Delphian  law,  those  who  were  guilty  of  sacrilege 
were  punished  in  this  manner.  The  Romans  also  inflicted  the  same  punish 
ment  for  various  offenses.  Among  the  Turks  and  the  Persians  a  similar 


BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.       [II  Chronicles. 

mode  of  capital  punishment  was  adopted.     Selden  has  suggested  that  the 
mode  of  Jezebel's  death  is  an  illustration  of  this  custom.    2  Kings  ix,  33. 

369.— TOWERS. 
XXVI,  10.    He  built  towers  in  the  desert. 

^  The  duties  of  shepherds   often  led   them  into  wild  districts  where  their 
lives  were  in  danger  from  wandering  brigands.     Hence  it  became  necessary 

to  erect    tou-ers   into 

which  they  might  re 
tire  for  safety  from  the 
attacks  oflarge  foixvs, 
and  from  which  they 
could  drive  off  the 
marauders.  The  iva- 
son  assigned  for  build 
ing  the  to  were  by  Uz- 
ziah  is  the  same  as 
that  given  (or  diguing 
the  wells:  ;'for  he  h?id 
much  cattle."  See  also 
2  Chron.  xxvii,  4. 
A  beautiful  figurative 
use  is  made  of  this 
custom  in  Psa.  Ixi.  3, 
and  in  Prov.  xviii,  10. 
Towers  were  also  built 
in  vineyards.  See  note 
on  Matt,  xxi,  33. 


370.— ENGINES  OF  WAR. 

XXVI,  15.  He  made  in  Jerusalem  engines,  invented  by  cunning 
men,  to  be  on  the  towers  and  upon  the  bulwarks,  to  shoot 
arrows  and  great  stones  withal. 

The  invention  of  these  engines  of  war  marks  an  era  in  warfare,  since  by 
their  use  the  power  of  an  army  was  greatly  increased  whether  for  attack  or 
defense.  They  were  simply  machine  bows  and  slings,  which,  by  the  appli 
cation  of  mechanical  principles,  were  made  to  throw  heavier  projectiles  than 
the  smaller  weapons  which  were  held  in  the  hand.  We  have  here  dottbtless 
the  origin  of  the  batiste  and  catapult*  which  afterward  became  so  famous  in 
Roman  warfare.  The  baiista  was  used  to  shoot  stones;  the  catapulta  pro 
jected  darts.  Historians  mention  three  sizes  of  lali&tte,  which  were  graded 

II  Chronicles.]      BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  191 

according  to  the  weight  of  the  stones  they  threw,  namely:  a  half  hundred 
weight,  a  whole  hundred  weight,  aud  three  hundred  weight.  Occasionally 
there  were  some  used  which  threw  stones  as  light  as  two  pounds.  Several 
balls  of  limestone,  which  were  found  in  the  excavations  in  Jerusalem  in  1869, 
are  thought  to  have  been  used  as  missiles  and  hurled  from  a  balista.  Cata- 
pultcB  were  denominated  according  to  the  length  of  the  darts  thrown  from 
them.  No  exact  idea  "can  now  be  had  of  the  forms  of  these  engines.  The 
Romans  classified  them  under  the  generic  title  of  tormentum,  because  of  the 
twisting  of  the  hairs,  thongs,  and  vegetable  fibers  from  which  the  elastic 
string  was  made  which  gave  impetus  to  the  projectile.  See  SMITH'S  Diet. 
Class.  Antiq.,  s.  v.  Turmentum.  These  engines  were  often  used  from  the  top 
of  a  "  mount ''  or  inclined  plane.  See  note  on  Ezek.  iv,  2. 

371.— CHANGE  OF  NAME. 

XXXVI,  4.  The  king  of  Egypt  made  Eliakim  his  brother  king 
over  Judah  and  Jerusalem,  and  turned  his  name  to  Jehoiakim. 

It  has  long  been  a  custom  among  Eastern  people  to  change  their  names  on 
the  occurrence  of  some  great  event  in  life.  It  was  in  accordance  with  the 
divine  command  at  the  time  of  the  renewal  of  the  covenant  that  the  name 
of  Abram  was  changed  to  Abraham,  (Gen.  xvii,  5 ;  Neh.  ix,  7,)  and  that 
of  Sarai  to  Sarah.  Gen.  xvii,  15.  Jacob's  name  was  changed  to  Israel,  in 
commemoration  of  his  prevailing  prayer.  Gen.  xxxii,  '28;  xxxv,  10.  The 
king  of  Egypt  changed  the  name  of  Joseph  to  Zaplmath-paaneah,  because 
of  his  ability  to  reveal  secrets.  Gen.  xli,  45.  Another  king  of  Egypt  sub 
sequently  changed  the  name  of  Eliakim  the  son  of  Josiah  to  Jehoiakim,  when 
he  made  him  king  of  Judah,  as  narrated  in  the  text,  and  also  in  2  Kings 
xxiii,  34.  So  when  the  king  of  Babylon  made  Mattaniah  king  ho  changed 
his  name  to  Zedekiah.  2  Kings  xxiv,  17.  In  like  manner  the  name  of  Ha- 
dassah  was  changed  to  Esther.  Esth.  ii,  7.  So,  also,  when  Nebuchadnezzar 
wished  to  have  a  few  of  the  young  Jewish  prisoners  taught  in  the  Chaldean 
language  and  customs,  he  changed  their  names  from  Daniel,  Hananiah, 
Mishael,  and  Azariah,  to  Belteshazzar,  Shadracb,  Meshach,  and  Abed-nego. 
Dan.  i  6.  7. 

The  custom  is  further  illustrated  by  Sir  John  Chardin  in  his  Travels  in 
Persia.  He  states  that  King  Sefi,  the  first  years  of  whose  reign  were 
unhappy  on  account  of  wars  and  famine  in  many  of  the  Persian  provinces, 
was  persuaded  by  his  counselors  to  change  his  name  as  a  means  of  chang 
ing  the  tide  of  fortune,  since  there  must  be  about  the  name  of  Sefi  some 
hidden  fatal  power  of  evil.  He  was,  therefore,  crowned  anew  in  the  year 
1666  under  the  name  of  Solyman  III.  All  seals,  coins,  and  other  public 
symbols  that  had  on  them  the  name  of  Sefi.  were  broken,  the  same  as  if  the 
king  had  been  dead,  and  his  successor  had  taken  his  place  upon  the  throne. 



372.— NETHINIM. 
II,  43.    The  Nethinim. 

These  were  men  who  assisted  the  Levites  in  performing  the  meanest 
offices  connected  with  the  temple  service.  Part  of  them  lived  in  Jerusalem, 
and  part  were  distributed  among  the  Levitical  cities.  They  are  supposed  to 
have  been  Canaauites  reduced  to  servitude,  (Josh,  ix,  21-27,)  and  captives 
taken  in  war,  who  were  set  apart  to  this  service,  and  therefore  called 
nethinim:  the  given,  the  devoted.  They  were  held  in  low  esteem  by  the  Jews, 
occupying  »  social  position  even  lower  than  the  mamzer,  or  illegitimate  off 


II,  69.    Threescore   and  one  thousand  drams  of  gold. 
The   coin  referred   to  here  and   in    chapter   viii,    27,  and  also  in   Neh. 
vii,  71,  72,  is  the  Persian  daric.     It  was  a  tlrck  piece  of  gold  having  on 
one  side  the  figure  of  a  king  with  bow  and 
javelin,   or   bow   and  dagger,    and   on  the 
other  an  irregular  oblong  depression.     The 
weight  of  the  daric   was  from  124  to  129 
grains  troy.     Its  value  has   been  variously 
estimated;    it  was  probably  not  far  from 
75.— PERSIAN  DARIC.  six  dollars,  gold. 


Ill,  T.  They  gave  money  also  unto  the  masons,  and  to  the 

The  particular  kind  of  money  which  was  given  to  these  workmen  is  not 
here  mentioned.  It  may  have  been  gold  and  silver ;  perhaps  it  was  clay ;  for 
it  is  a  fact  worth  mentioning  that  in  Babylonia  and  in  Persia  at  that  very  timo 
there  were  in  use  certain  clay  tablets  which  are  supposed  by  some  writers  to 
have  been  used  for  the  same  purpose  that  we  now  use  bank-notes!  Among 
other  curious  things  which  Loftus  unearthed  at  Warka  were  about  forty 
"small  tablets  of  unbaked  clay,  covered  on  both  sides  with  minute 
characters."  They  were  in  length  from  two  inches  to  four  and  a  half,  and 
in  breadth  from  one  inch  to  three.  They  had  on  them  the  names  of  various 
kings,  and  dates  ranging  from  626  to  525  B.  C.  Among  these  was  the  name 
of  Cyrus,  the  king  who  directed  the  work  for  which  the  money  was  given 
according  to  the  text.  Sir  Henry  Rawlinson,  who  examined  the  inscriptions, 
Bays  that  the  tablets  "seemed  to  be  notes  issued  by  the  government  for 


the  convenience  of  circulation,  representing  a  certain  value,  which  was 
always  expressed  in  measures  of  weight,  of  gold  or  silver,  and  redeemable 
on  presentation  at  the  royal  treasury."  Loftus  adds,  " These  tablets  were, 
in  point  of  fact,  the  equivalents  of  our  own  bank-notes,  and  prove  that  a 
system  of  artificial  currency  prevailed  in  Babylonia,  and  also  in  Persia,  at  an 
unprecedented  early  ago — -centuries  before  the  introduction  of  paper  or 
printing." — Travels  in  Chaldea  and  Susiana,  p.  222. 


VI,  8,  4.  Let  the  house  be  builded,  the  place  where  they  of 
fered  sacrifices,  and  let  the  foundations  thereof  be  strongly 
laid ;  the  height  thereof  threescore  cubits,  and  the  breadth 
thereof  threescore  cubits  ;  with  three  rows  of  great  stones,  and 
a  row  of  new  timber. 

This  temple,  sometimes  called  the  second  temple,  and  sometimes  the 
temple  of  Zerubbabel,  was  built  on  the  site  of  the  first,  or  Solomon's 
temple.  "We  have  not  so  definite  a  description  given  of  this  as  we  have  of 
Solomon's  temple.  The  second  temple  was  larger  than  the  first.  The 
"  rows  "  of  stones  are  supposed  to  refer  to  three  stories  of  chambers,  such  as 
were  attached  to  Solomon's  temple,  and  on  these  was  placed  an  additional 
story  of  wood.  The  temple  of  Zerubbabel,  though  of  greater  size  than  that 
of  Solomon,  was  inferior  to  it  in  magnificence.  According  to  Jewish  author 
ities  its  altar  of  burnt-offering  was  of  stone  instead  of  brass,  and  it  had  but 
one  table  of  show-bread  and  but  one  candlestick.  It  is  also  said  that  the 
sanctuary  was  entirely  empty,  excepting  that  in  place  of  the  ark  of  the  cov 
enant  a  stone  was  set  three  fingers  high,  on  which  the  high  priest  placed  the 
censer  and  sprinkled  the  blood  of  atonement.  Some  suppose,  however, 
that  a  new  ark  was  made  and  set  in  the  sanctuary.  The  rabbins  reckon  five 
different  important  features  of  the  first  temple  which  were  wanting  in  the 
gecond:  1.  The  Ark  of  the  Covenant.  2.  The  Sacred  Fire.  3.  The  She- 
kiuah.  4.  The  Holy  Spirit.  5.  The  answer  by  Urim  and  Thummira.  Some 
of  these  distinctions  are,  however,  thought  by  more  sober  writers  to  be  a 
little  fanciful, 

376.— ADAR. 

VI,  15.  This  house  was  finished  on  the  third  day  of  the 
month  Adar. 

This  was  the  closing  month  of  the  year,  and  corresponded  very  nearly  to 
our  month  of  March. 





377.— CHISLEU. 

I,  1.    It  came  to  pass  in  the   month  Chisleu. 
This  corresponded  very  nearly  to  our  month  of  December. 

I,  11.    For  I  was  the  king's  cup-bearer. 

The  office  of  royal  cup-bearer  or  butler  is  of  high  antiquity,  and  was  a  place 
of  great  honor  in  the  Persian  court.  The  cup-bearer,  being  in  the  daily 
presence  of  the  king,  and  seeing  him  at  his  sea 
sons  of  relaxation  from  care,  had  many  oppor 
tunities  of  ingratiating  himself  into  the  good-will 
of  the  monarch,  and  thus  doubtless  obtained 
many  favors  which  were  denied  others.  Cup 
bearers  were  generally  eunuchs,  and  are  often 
found  represented  on  Assyrian  monuments.  In 
these  representations  they  hold  the  cup  in  the 
left  hand,  and  in  the  right  hand  a  fly-flap  made  of 
the  split  leaves  of  the  palm.  A  long  napkin, 
richly  embroidered  and  fringed,  is  thrown  over 
the  left  shoulder  for  the  king  to  wipe  his  lips 
with.  Among  the  Medes  and  Persians  the  cup 
bearer,  before  serving  the  king,  took  the  wine 
into  the  cup  from  the  vessels,  and  then  poured  a 
little  into  the  palm  of  his  left  hand  and  drank  it; 
so  that  if  the  wine  were  poisoned  the  king  might 
ascertain  it  without  running  any  personal  risk. 
Pharaoh  had  cup-bearers  to  attend  him.  Gen. 


xl,  2.     Solomon  also  had  them.  1  Kings  x,  5 ;  2  Chron.  ix,  4. 


II,  7.  Moreover  I  said  unto  the  king,  If  it  please  the  king,  let 
letters  be  given  me  to  the  governors  beyond,  the  river,  that 
they  may  convey  me  over  till  I  come  into  Judah. 

It  is  still  customary  in  many  parts  of  the  East  to  obtain  letters  of  recom 
mendation,  or  orders  for  safe  conduct,  when  the  traveler  desires  to  visit 
different  districts  under  one  central  authority.  Without  these  he  could  not 
travel  in  comfort  or  safety ;  but  having  them,  those  to  whom  he  presents 
them  are  bound  to  protect  him.  Thus  Nehemiah  was  able  to  travel  safely 
throughout  the  Persian  empire. 

Nehemiah.]  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  195 


V,  18.     Also    I    shook    my    lap,    and    said,     So    God    shake    out 
every  man  from  his  house,    and  from   his  labor,  that  perform- 
eth     not     this    promise,    even    thus    be     he      shaken     out,     and 

The  "lap  "  was  a  fold  made  in  the  outer  garment,  near  the  breast,  for  the 
reception  of  various  articles.  See  note  on  Luke  vi,  38.  To  shake  this  was 
equivalent  to  a  curse,  and  to  empty  it  was  a  significant  suggestion  of  utter 
extermination.  Roberts  says  that  the  natives  of  India  always  carry  in  their 
lap  a  pouch  made  of  the  leaf  of  cocoa  or  of  some  other  tree,  and  that  they  are 
careful  never  to  have  the  pouch  entirely  empty.  They  have  in  it  money, 
areea  nut,  betel  leaf!  and  tobacco.  Even  when  they  wish  to  find  any  article 
they  never  empty  the  pouch,  but  rather  fumble  about  for  a  long  time  until 
they  get  1  old  of  the  object  sought.  They  say  if  the  pouch  should  become 
empty  it  might  remain  so  for  a  long  time.  They  also  shake  the  lap  of  the 
robe  when  they  curse  each  other. 

When  the  Roman  etnbassadors  proposed  the  choice  of  peace  or  war  to 
the  Carthaginians  they  made  use  of  a  s  milar  ceremony.  "  When  the  Roman 
embassadors  entered  the  senate  of  Carthage  they  had  their  toga  gathered  up 
in  their  bosom.  They  said,  'We  carry  here  peace  and  war;  you  may  have 
which  you  will.'  The  senate  answered,  'You  may  give  which  you  please.' 
They  then  shook  their  toga,  and  said,  'We  bring  you  war.'  To  which 
all  the  senate  answered,  '  We  cheerfully  accept  it.'  "— BDRDER,  Oriental 
Illustrations \  No.  645. 

It  was  in  a  similar  way  that  Nehemiah  significantly  suggested  to  the 
usurers  of  his  time  their  utter  extermination  if  they  failed  to  keep  the  cove 
nant  of  restitution  which  they  had  made.  See  also  Acts  xvi-i,  6. 

381.— LETTERS. 

VI,  5.    Then  sent  Sanballat  his   servant  unto  me  in  like  man 
ner  the  fifth  time  with  an  open  letter  in   his  hand. 

1.  The  first  mention  that  is  made  in  Scripture  of  a  letter  is  of  that  which 
David  sent  to  Joab.  2  Sam.  xi,  14.  We  also  read  of  the  letters  which 
Jezebel  wrote  in  the  name  of  Ahab.  1  Kings  xxi,  8.  The  king  of  Syria 
wrote  a  letter  to  the  king  of  Israel.  2  Kings  v,  5-7.  Jehu  also  wrote  let 
ters.  2  Kings  x,  1.  Later  on  in  the  history  more  frequent  mention  is  made 
of  them. 

On  what  substance  these  ancient  letters  were  written  it  is  now  impossible 
to  say.  They  may  have  been  written  on  skins  dressed  for  the  purpose,  on 
palm-leaves,  or  on  papyrus,  the  use  of  which  is  now  known  to  have  been 
very  ancient  with  the  Egyptians,  and  from  them  neighboring  natiq^  may 
have  learned  it. 

196  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Nehemiah. 

2.  In  Persia,  as  well  as  in  some  other  Oriental  lands,  letters,  when  sent 
to  persons  of  distinction,  are  generally,  after  being  rolled  up  in  a  scroll, 
inclosed  in  a  bag  or  purse,  which  is  sometimes  made  of  very  elegant  and 
costly  material.  The  end  of  this  purse  is  tied,  closed  over  with  clay  or  wax, 
and  then  sealed.  See  Isa.  viii,  16;  xxix,  11;  Dan.  xii,  4,  9;  Rev.  v,  4,  9  ; 
x,  4;  xxii,  10.  For  the  mode  of  sealing,  see  note  on  1  Kings  xxi,  8.  This  is 
considered  a  mark  of  respect,  and  a  recognition  of  the  rank  or  position  of 
the  person  to  whom  it  is  sent.  When  sent  to  inferiors,  or  to  persons  whom 
the  writer  wishes  to  treat  with  contempt,  the  letters  are  uninclosed.  This 
custom  probably  existed  among  the  Persians  in  the  time  of  Nehemiah,  since 
special  emphasis  is  in  the  text  laid  upon  the  fact  that  the  letter  was  an  open 
letter;  that  is,  as  we  understand  it,  that  it  was  not  inclosed  in  a  bag,  and 
therefore  indicated  the  contempt  which  Sanballat,  had  for  Nehemiah.  He 
treated  him  as  a  person  of  inferior  position. 

.—  ELUL. 

VI,  15.    The  twenty  and  fifth  day  of  the  month  Elul. 

Tiiis  month  corresponded  very  nearly  with  September  of  our  calendar. 

3§3.—  TIRSHATHA. 

VII,  65.    And  the  Tirshatha  said  unto  them. 

This  was  the  title  of  the  Persian  governor  of  Judea.  Gesenius  de 
rives  the  word  from  the  Persian  torsh  :  "severe,"  "austere,"  which  would 
make  the  meaning  equivalent  to  your  Severity.  He  compares  it  with 
the  German  gestrenger  llerr,  (that  is,  your  "Worship  ;  "  but,  literally,  Severe 
Master,)  a  title  which  was  formerly  given  to  the  magistrates  of  the  free  and 
imperial  German  cities.  The  English  have  a  corresponding  expression: 
"  most  dread  Sovereign." 
See  also  Ezra  ii,  63;  Neh.  vii,  70;  viii,  9  ;  x,  1. 


VIII,  10.     Go   your   way,    eat  the   fat,  and   drink   the  sweet,   and 
send  portions  unto  them  for  whom   nothing  is   prepared. 

This  has  generally  been  interpreted  to  mean  that  the  wants  of  the  poor 
were  to  be  supplied;  but  Hartner  (Observations,  vol.  ii,  p.  107)  prefers  to 
refer  it  to  the  custom  of  sending  a  portion  of  a  feast  to  those  who  car  not 
well  come  to  it,  especially  to  the  relatives  of  those  who  give  the  feast, 
and  to  those  in  a  state  of  mourning,  who  in  their  grief  would  make  no 
preparation.  In  Esther  ix,  19  it  is  said  that  among  the  ceremonies  of  the 
feast  of  Purim  there  was  to  be  "sending  portions  one  to  another."  In  the 
twenty-second  verse  of  the  same  chap'er  the  order  of  Mordecai  is  given  for 

Nehemiah.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  197 

keeping  the  feast,  and  it  is  directed  "  that  they  should  make  them  days  of 
feasting  and  joy,  and  of  sending  portions  one  to  another,  and  gifts  to  the 
poor."  From  this  verse  it  is  evident  that  sending  "  gifts  to  the  poor  "  is  not 
the  same  thing  as  "  sending  portions  one  to  another."  This  latter  custom, 
however,  may,  in  turn,  be  different  from  the  one  referred  to  in  Nehemiah,  and 
may  mean  that  these  pious  Jews  expressed  their  joy  by  a  mutual  exchange 
of  the  good  things  provided  for  the  feast.  This  custom  is  alluded  to  in  Rev. 
xi,  10,  where  the  enemies  of  the  "  two  witnesses  "  are  represented,  as  rejoic 
ing  over  their  death:  "And  they  that  dwell  upon  the  earth  shall  rejoice 
over  them,  and  make  merry,  and  send  gifts  one  to  another;  because  these 
two  prophets  tormented  them  that  dwelt  on  the  earth." 


X,  34.  We  east  the  lots  among  the  priests,  the  Levites,  and 
the  people,  for  the  wood  offering,  to  bring  it  into  the  house 
of  our  God,  after  the  houses  of  our  fathers,  at  times  appointed 
year  by  year,  to  burn  upon  the  altar  of  the  Lord  our  God,  as 
it  is  written  in  the  law. 

The  work  of  supplying  the  wood  necessary  for  the  altar  fires  was  a  part 
of  the  task  assigned  to  the  Nethinim.  See  note  on  Ezra  ii,  43.  On  the  occa 
sion  of  the  captivity  these  became  scattered,  and  their  organization  was  broken 
up,  and  though  some  Nethinim  returned  to  Jerusalem,  they  were  probably  not 
so  numerous  as  before.  It  became  necessary,  therefore,  for  all  classes  of  the 
people  to  attend  to  tins  work,  and  the  time  of  their  doing  it  was  regulated 
by  lot.  This  work  is  what  is  called  the  "  wood  offering  "  in  the  text  and  in 
chapter  xiii,  31.  "We  have  no  further  mention  of  it  in  the  Scriptures,  but 
the  Jewish  writers  give  additional  accounts  of  the  manner  in  which  the 
work  was  done.  Different  families  had  different  tunes  of  the  year  assigned 
them  for  their  share  in  the  work.  This  was  the  origin  of  a  great  festival 
which  was  known  by  the  name  of  the  feast  of  wood-carrying,  and  was 
celebrated  annually  on  a  certain  day  in  Ab,  (August.)  This  was  the  last 
day  of  the  year  on  which  wood  could  be  cut  for  this  purpose,  and  all  the 
people  without  distinction  of  tribe  or  grade  brought  wood  to  the  temple  on 
that  day.  The  festival  was  universally  and  joyously  kept;  no  fasting  or 
mourning  was  permitted. 


XIII,  25.  I  contended  with  them,  and  cursed  them,  and  smote 
certain  of  them,  and  plucked  off  their  hair. 

This  is  equivalent  to  what  we  term  "  tearing  the  hair  out  by  the  roots." 
It  was  sometimes  a  self-inflicted  suffering  MS  a  token  of  mourning,  (see  Ezra 
ix,  3,)  somet'mes  an  act  of  w;mton  persecution,  (see  Isa.  1,  6,)  and  sometimes 




punishment,  as  represented  in  the  text.  It  is  said  that  the  ancient  Athenians 
punished  adulterers  by  tearing  the  hair  from  the  scalp  and  then  covering 
the  head  with  hot  ashes. 


I,  5.    In  the  court  of  the  garden  of  the  king's   palace. 

The  "court"  of  an  Oriental  house  is  the  open  space  around  which  the 
house  is  built.  The  outside  of  the  building  shows  to  the  observer  hardly 
anything  but  blank  walls,  the  privacy  of 
the  people  being  such  that  the  interior  of 
their  dwellings  is  completely  hidden  from 
public  gaze.  Th-3  ordinary  houses  have  but 
one  court,  but  houses  of  a  better  class 
have  two  or  three,  and  some  of  the  best 
houses  in  Damascus  have  seven  courts. 
The  palaces  of  kings  had  a  number  of 

The  courts  are  sometimes  laid  out  in 
beautiful  gardens  containing  various  fruits 
and  flowers;  and  trees  are  often  planted 
the  olive,  the  pomegranate.  To  this  the 
"I  am  like  a  green  olive-tree  in  the  house 


there:  the  palm,  the  cvpress, 
Psalmist  alludes  when  he  says, 
of  God."  Psa.  lii,  8.  Again,  "  The  righteous  shall  flourish  like  the  palm- 
tree  :  he  shall  grow  like  a  cedar  in  Lebanon.  Those  that  be  planted  in  the 
house  of  the  Lord  shall  flourish  in  the  courts  of  our  God."  Psa.  xcii,  12,  13. 
Sometimes  the  court  is  handsomely  paved  witli  marble,  (see  verse  6,)  and 
has  a  fountain  in  the  center.  Cisterns  are  also  built  here.  See  note  on 
2  Sam.  xvii,  18,  19. 

The  court  usually  has  a  covered  walk  nine  or  ten  feet  wide  projecting 
from  the  house.  This  walk  is  generally  on  the  four  sides  of  the  court,  though 
sometimes  only  on  one  side.  If  the  house  is  over  one  story  high,  the  roof  of 
this  covered  walk  forms  a  gallery,  and  is  protected  by  a  balustrade.  This 
gallery  js  supported  by  pillars.  Solomon  is  supposed  to  refer  to  this  in 
Prov.  ix,  1 :  "Wisdom  hath  builded  her  house,  she  hath  hewn  out  her  seven 

Esther.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  201 

pillars."  See  also  Job  ix,  6 ;  xxvi,  11;  Psa.  Ixxv,  3 ;  Gal.  ii,  9  ;  ITim.iii,  15; 
but  oil  this  last  text  see  note  on  Gen.  xxviii,  18.  On  occasions  of  ieasting, 
the  guests  are  often  assembled  in  the  court,  as  is  related  in  the  text. 

The  rooms  of  the  house  open  into  the  court.  In  some  houses  this  opening 
is  by  means  of  doors ;  but  in  others  the  rooms  are  divided  from  the  court 
by  a  low  partition  only.  Where  the  house  is  more  than  one  story  in  height 
the  stairs  to  the  upper  apartments  are  usually,  though  not  always,  in  one 
corner  of  the  court. 

The  diagram  on  page  198  represents  the  ground- plan  of  an  Oriental  house. 
In  the  left-hand  corner,  at  the  bottom,  is  the  door,  which  opens  directly  into 
t.he  porch  or  entrance-hall.  To  enter  the  court  it  is  necessary  to  cross  this 
hull  and  go  through  an  adjacent  room.  It  can  thus  be  seen  how  one  might 
niter  the  porch  and  yet  have  no  view  of  the  interior  arrangements  of  the 
house.  In  the  center  of  the  court,  at  the  place  marked  A  in  the  diagram, 
is  the  fountain  or  cistern.  The  small  circles  around  the  court  mark  the  po- 
s;tions  of  the  pillars  which  support  the  gallery  above,  and  the  square  and 
oblong  spaces  represent  various  apartments.  The  engraving  on  page  199 
gives  a  representation  of  the  court  of  a  house  with  tesselated  marble  pave 
ment,  garden,  and  fountain. 

Reference  is  made  to  the  court  in  1  Kings  vii,  8,  9,  12;  Neh.  viii,  16; 
Ksth.  vi,  4,  5,  etc. 


I,  6.  Where  -were  -white,  green,  and  blue  hangings,  fast 
ened  with  cords  of  fine  linen  and  purple  to  silver  rings  and 
pillars  of  marble  :  the  beds  were  of  gold  and  silver,  upon  a 
pavement  of  red,  and  blue,  and  white,  and  black  marble. 

1.  fri  the  heat  of  summer  an  awning  is  sometimes  stretched  across  the 
court  from  one  gallery  to  another.  Reference  is  thought  to  be  made  to  this 
in  Psa.  civ,  2,  and  Isa.  xlv,  12;  and  many  writers  think  that  the  text  speaks  of 
an  a  \vning  of  variegated  colors  thrown  over  the  court-yard  of  the  palace. 
In  the  ruing  of  the  palace  at  Kliorsabad  a  small  bronze  lion  was  found  of 
beautiful  workmanship  and  fixed  in  a  flagstone  in  the  pavement  of  the  court. 
At  intervals  there  were  similar  flagstones  in  the  pavement,  where  it  is 
evident  that  other  lions  had  been  placed.  From  the  fact  that  this  lion  had 
a  ring  rising  from  his  back,  nabli  rig  the  rings  in  the  animal-shaped 
weights  which  have  been  found,  (see  note  on  Gen.  xxiii,  16,)  it  is  supposed 
that  these  bronze  images  were  used  in  the  pavement  to  fasten  the  eoVds  of 
the  awning  which  was  spread  over  the  court. 

Some  authorities,  however,  suppose  that  the  variegated  hangings,  instead 
of  making  an  awning,  were  magnificent  curtains  suspended  between  the 
marble  pillars  of  the  court.  This  is  the  opinion  of  Professor  Rawlinson,  and 
also  of  Loftiis.  The  latter  excavated  among  the  ruins  of  the  great  p^ace  at 

202  BIBLE   MANNER3   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Esther 

Susa,  which  he  believes  to  have  been  the  very  palace  referred  to  in  the  book 
of  Esther.  His  investigations  satisfied  him  that  "  the  Great  Hall  at  Susa 
consisted  of  several  magnificent  groups  of  columns,  together  having  a 
frontage  of  three  hundred  and  forty-three  feet  nine  inches,  and  a  depth  of 
two  hundred  and  forty-four  feet.  These  groups  were  arranged  into  a  central 
phalanx  of  thirty-six  columns,  (six  rows  of  six  each,)  flanked  on  the  wesr, 
north,  and  east  by  an  equal  number,  disposed  of  in  double  rows  of  six  each 
and  distant  from  them  sixty-four  feet  two  inches." — Travels  in  Chaldea  and 
Susiana,  p.  367.  He  thinks  that  the  colored  curtains  wore  hung  around  the 
central  group  of  marble  columns. 

2.  It  is  customary  to  spread  mats  and  carpets  on  the  court  pavement  for 
tne  accommodation  of  guests;  Aliasuerus  with  kingly  magnificence  placed 
costly  couches.  These  couches  of  ''gold  and  silver,"  on  which  the  guests 
reclined  in  the  palace  court  while  they  feasted,  (see  note  on  Matt,  xxvi,  7,) 
may  have  been  covered  with  cloth  in  which  these  materials  were  inter 
woven,  (see  note  on  Prov.  vii,  16,)  or  they  may  have  been  put  on  frames 
which  were  ornamented  with  the  precious  metals.  Layard  ?ays  that  ''  chairs 
and  couches  adorned  with  feet  of  silver  and  other  metals  were  looked  upon 
as  a  great  object  of  luxury  in  Persia." — Nineveh  and  its  Remains,  vol.  ii, 
p.  300.  According  to  Herodotus,  the  tables,  thrones,  and  couches  in  the 
temple  of  Belus  at  Babylonia  were  of  solid  gold. 


T,  8.  The  drinking  was  according  to  the  law  ;  none  did  com 
pel:  for  so  the  king  had  appointed  to  all  the  officers  of 
his  house,  that  they  should  do  according  to  every  man's 

Revelers  of  all  nations  seem  to  have  had  their  peculiar  drinking  customs 
which  were  as  binding  as  laws.  Among  the  Egyptians,  wine  was  offered 
before  dinner  commenced,  and  the  guests  also  drank  during  the  repast. 
Among  the  Greeks,  each  guest  was  obliged  to  keep  the  round  or  leave  the 
company.  "Drink,  or  be  gone,"  was  the  proverb.  At  ihe  Roman  feasts,  a 
master  of  the  feast  was  chosen  by  throwing  dice.  He  prescribed  rules  to 
the  company  which  all  were  obliged  to  observe.  See  note  on  John  ii,  8. 

Bishop  Patrick,  in  his  note  on  this  place,  suggests  that  the  text  means 
that  though  it  was  the  custom  to  compel  men  to  drink  whether  they  would 
or  not,  yet  the  king  on  this  occasion  directed  that  each  guest  be  left  to  his 
own  discretion,  and  that  none  were  obliged  to  drink  according  to  this 
custom.  Leaving  out  the  word  was,  which  the  translators  supplied;  ren 
dering  the  Hebrew  word  dath,  IC  custom,"  instead  of  "law,"  as  in  our  ver 
sion;  and  slightly  changing  the  punctuation,  the  Bishop  translates:  "The 
drinking  according  to  custom,  none  did  compel."  Thus  no  one  would  incur 
displeasure  who  violated  the  ordinary  rule  of  conviviality. 

Esther.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  203 


I,  9.  Also  Vashti  the  queen  made  a  feast  for  the  women  in 
the  royal  house  which  belonged  to  king  Ahasuerus. 

The  women  in  the  East  do  not  have  their  feasts  in  the  same  room  with 
the  men.  This  separation  of  the  sexes  is  an  ancient  custom  which  was 
observed  at  this  time  at  the  court  of  Persia,  though  Jahn,  speaking  of  the 
custom,  says  that  "  Babylon  and  Persia  must,  however,  be  looked  upon  as 
exceptions,  where  the  ladies  were  not  excluded  from  the  festivals  of  the 
men,  (Dan.  v,  2;)  and  if  we  may  believe  the  testimony  of  ancient  authors,  at 
Babylon  they  were  not  remarkable  for  their  modesty  on  such  occasions." 
Archaeology,  §  146. 

As  far  as  Babylon  is  concerned  the  remark  is  correct,  and  it  serves  to 
illustrate  the  relaxation  of  manners  which  showed  itself  among  the  dissolute 
Babylonians.  It  is  not  true,  however,  in  reference  to  Persia,  as  is  plainly 
seen  by  the  indignation  of  Vashti  when  her  drunken  husband  sent  for  her 
to  come  and  display  her  'beauty  before  the  revelers.  Her  womanly  spirit 
was  aroused  and  she  refused.  See  verse  12.  This  error  as  to  the  Persian 
custom  probably  rests  on  an  oft-quoted  story  told  by  Herodotus,  who  says 
that  seven  Persian  embassador?,  being  sent  to  Amyntas,  a  Grecian  prince, 
were  entertained  by  him  at  a  feast,  and  told  him  when  they  began  to  drink 
that  it  was  customary  among  their  countrymen  to  introduce  their  concubines 
and  yonng  wives  at  their  entertainments.  Dr.  Pusey  says  of  tin's  statement, 
"  If  historical,  it  was  a  shameless  lie,  to  attain  their  end."— Lectures  on 
Daniel,  p.  461,  note.  Rawlinson  represents  the  Oriental  seclusion  of  women 
as  carried  to  an  excess  among  the  ancient  Persians.  See  Five  Ancient 
Monarchies,  vol.  iii,  p.  222. 


I,  10.  The  seven  chamberlains  that  served  in  the  presence  of 
Ahasuerus  the  king. 

Sarisim  is  variously  rendered  "chamberlains,"  "officers."  and  "eunuchs." 
They  were  emasculated  persons  who  had  charge  of  the  harems  of  Oriental 
monarchs,  and  who  were  also  employed  by  them  in  various  offices  about  the 
court.  They  often  became  the  confidential  advisers  of  the  monarch,  and 
were  frequently  men  of  great  influence,  and  sometimes  had  high  military 
office  See  Jer.  xxxix,  3.  This  was  especially  the  case  in  Persia,  where 
they  acquired  great  political  power,  and  filled  positions  of  great  prominence, 
and  sometimes  engaged  in  conspiracy  against  the  life  of  the  king,  an  illustra 
tion  of  which  may  be  found  in  chapter  ii,  verse  21. 

The  Hebrew  monarchs  had  them  in  their  courts.     See  1  Sam.  vw,  15; 

204  BIBLE    MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [Esther. 

1  Kings  xxii,  9;'   2  Kings  viii,    6;    ix,   32;  xxiii,   11;    xxv,  19;   1  Chron. 
xxviii,  1  ;  Jer.  xxix,  2  ;  xxxiv,  19;  xxxviii,  7;  lii,  25. 

Though  it  was  the  barbarous  custom  of  Eastern  sovereigns  to  mutilate 
many  of  their  young  prisoners  in  the  manner  here  indicated,  there  is  no 
evidence  that  the  Hebrew  tings  ever  did  this.  The  eunuchs  employed  by 
them  are  supposed  to  have  been  imported.  It  is  thought  that  Daniel  and 
his  companions  were  thus  maltreated  by  the  king  of  Babylon  in  fulfillment  of 
the  prediction  contained  in  2  Kings  xx,  17,  18  ;  Isa.  xxxix,  7. 


II,  13.  Out  of  the  house  of  the  women  unto  the  king's 

The  place  appointed  as  a  residence  for  the  wives  and  concubines  of  the 
king  was  separated  from  the  rest  of  the  palace  by  a  court.  There  were  in  it 
three  sets  of  apartments :  one  set  for  the  virgins  who  had  not  yet  been  sent  for 
by  the  king,  one  for  the  concubines,  and  one  for  the  queen  and  the  other 
wives.  The  first  is  referred  to  in  verse  8  ;  it  was,  under  the  charge  of  a 
special  chamberlain.  The  second  is  mentioned  in  verse  14,  and  is  spoken 
of  as  under  the  charge  of  another  chamberlain.  The  third  is  mentioned  in 
chapter  i,  9,  and  was  under  the  charge  of  the  queen  herself:  she  was  not 
watched  over  by  a  chamberlain,  but  had  one  subject  to  her  orders.  See 
Esther  iv,  5. 

393.— TEBETH. 

II,  16.    The  tenth  month,  which  is  the  month  Tebeth. 

This  corresponded  very  nearly  to  our  month  of  January. 


II,  17.  The  king  loved  Esther  above  all  the  -women,  and  she 
obtained  grace  and  favor,  in  his  sight  more  than  all  the  vir 
gins  ;  so  that  he  set  the  royal  crown  upon  her  head,  and  made 
her  queen  instead  of  Vashti. 

There  was  one  of  the  wives  of  the  Persian  monarchs  who  occupied  a 
higher  position  than  any  of  the  others,  and  to  her  alone  the  title  of  "queen" 
belonged.  "  The  chief  wife  or  queen-consort  was  privileged  to  wear  on  her 
head  a  royal  tiara  or  crown.  She  was  the  acknowledged  head  of  the  female 
apartments  or  GynaBceum,  and  the  concubines  recognized  her  dignity  by 
actual  prostration.  On  great  occasions,  when  the  king  entertained  the  male 
part  of  the  court,  she  feasted  all  the  females  in  her  own  part  of  the  palace.  She 
had  a  large  revenue  of  her  own,  assigned  her,  not  so  much  by  the  will  of  her 
husband,  as  by  an  established  law  or  custom.  Her  dress  was  splendid,  and 
she  was  able  to  indulge  freely  that  love  of  ornament  of  whicli  few  Oriental 
women  are  devoid." — RAWLINSON,  Five  Ancient  Monarchies,  vol.  iii,  p.  218. 

This  was  the  elevated  position  filled  by  Vashti,  and  afterward  by  Esther. 

Esther.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  205 


IV,  11.    "Whosoever,  -whether  man  or  woman,  shall  come  unto 
the   king   into    the  inner   court,   who   is  not  called,  there  is  one 
law  of  his  to  put  him  to  death,   except  such  to  whom   the    king 
shall  hold  out  the   golden  scepter,   that  he    may  live. 

The  etiquette  of  the  Persian  court  was  very  strict..  Except  the  "  Seven 
Princes,"  no  one  could  approach  the  king  unless  introduced  by  a  court 
usher.  To  come  into  the  king's  presence  without  being  summoned  was  a 
capital  crime ;  and  the  severity  of  the  Persian  punishments  may  be  seen  in 
the  fact  that  an  act  like  this  was  followed  by  the  same  punishment  as  mur 
der  or  rebellion.  The  intruder  was  instantly  put  to  death  by  the  attendants 
unless  the  king,  by  extending  his  golden  scepter,  showed  his  approval  of 
the  act.  It  was  well  understood,  therefore,  that  whoever  thus  appeared 
before  the  king  deliberately  risked  life;  and  it  is  an  evidence  of  the  influence 
which  Esther  had  gained  over  Ahasuerus  that,  when  she  appeared,  the 
scepter  was  extended.  See  chapter  v,  2,  and  viii,  4. 


V,  12.    To-morrow  am  I  invited  unto   her  also  with  the  king. 

It  was  a  rare  privilege  for  a  subject,  however  high  his  station,  to  he  per 
mitted  to  banquet  with  the  king.  Occasionally,  however,  this  was  allowed, 
and  Haman  had  reason  to  feel  highly  honored  at  the  invitation  he  received 
from  the  queen  by  permission  of  the  king.  It  must  be  understood,  how 
ever,  that  when  subjects  were  thus  admitted  to  feast  with  royalty  they  were 
reminded  of  their  inferior  position.  "The  monarch  reclined  on  a  couch  with 
golden  feet,  and  sipped  the  rich  wine  of  Helbon;  the  guests  drank  an  inferior 
beverage,  seated  upon  the  floor." — Five  Monarchies,  vol.  iii,  p.  214.  On 
some  very  special  occasions  the  rigidity  of  this  rule  was  relaxed.  The  king 
presided  openly  at  a  banquet  where  large  numbers  of  dignitaries  were 
assembled,  and  royal  couches  and  royal  wine  were  provided  for  them  all. 
Such  a  feast  is  referred  to  in  chapter  i,  3. 


VI,  8.    Let  the  royal  apparel  be  brought  which  the  king  useth 
to  wsar,     and    the    horse    which     the    king    rideth    upon,    and 
the  crown  royal  which   is  set  upon  his  head. 

1.  Chardiri  says  that  when  the  grandees  visited  Solyman  III.,  to  congratulate 
him  on  his  coronation,  the  king  made  every  one  of  them  a  present  of  a 
dilate,  or  royal  vest.  "It  is  an  infallible  mark  of  the  particular  esteem 
which  the  sovereign  has  for  the  person  to  whom  he  sends  it,  and  tliaUie  has 

206  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Esther. 

free  liberty  to  approach  his  person." — Travels  in  Persia,  p.  71.     See  also 
note  on  1  Sam.  xviii,  4. 

2.  Herodotus  states  that  the  kings  of  Persia  had  horses  of  remarkable 
beauty  and  of  a  peculiar  breed  which  were  brought  from  Armenia.     To  ride 
upon  the   king's  horse   was  almost   as  great  an  honor  as  to  sit  upon  his 

3.  Some  commentators  think  that  by  "the  crown  royal"  is  meant  merelj 
an  ornament  which  was  a  part  of  the  head-trappings  of  the  horse ;  though 
why  the  horse's  head-dress  should  deserve  such  special  mention  here  it  is 
not  easy  to  tell.     It  is  more  likely  that  the  crown  of  the  king  is  meant,  and 
if  so,  it  is  probable,  as  some  authorities  suppose,  that  the  crown  was  put, 
not  on  the  head  of  Mordecai,  but  on  the  head  of  the  horse.     It  is  said  to 
have  been  a  custom  among  the  Persians,  as  well  as  some  other  nations, 
that  the  crown  of  the  king  was  sometimes  put  on  some  favorite  royal  steed 
when  the  animal  was  led  in  state. 


VII,  7.  The  king  arising  from  the  banquet  of  wine  in  his  wrath 
went  into  the  palace  garden  :  and  Haman  stood  up  to  make 
request  for  his  life  to  Esther  the  queen  ;  for  he  saw  that  there 
was  evil  determined  against  him  by  the  king. 

The  rising  of  the  king  in  this  way  was  an  evidence  to  Haman  of  his  con 
demnation  to  death;  it  was  the  royal  method  of  expressing  displeasure  and 
vengeance.  An  instance  is  cited  by  Rosenmiiller,  from  Olearius,  which  illus 
trates  this  Persian  custom.  Scliah  Sefi  once  considered  himself  insulted  by 
an  unseemly  jest  which  one  of  his  favorites  had  permitted  himself  to  relate  in 
his  presence.  The  king  suddenly  arose  and  left  the  place,  and  the  favorite 
saw  that  his  fate  was  sealed.  He  went  home  in  dismay,  and  in  a  few  hours 
the  king  sent  for  his  head. — Morgmland.  vol.  iii,  p.  314. 


VII,  8.     As   the   word   went  out   of  the  king's  mouth,  they  cov 
ered    Haman's  face. 

The  precise  design  of  thus  .covering  the  face  of  a  condemned  criminal  is 
not  known,  though  it  has  been  conjectured  that  it  was  intended  to  signify 
that  the  person  condemned  was  not  worthy  again  to  look  on  the  face  of  the 
king.  The  custom  was  observed  in  other  nations  as  well  as  among  the 


VIII,  9.     In   the  third  month,   that  is,  the  month  Sivan. 

Sivan  corresponded  nearlv  to  our  month  of  June. 



IX,  26.  Wherefore  they  called  these  days  Purim  after  the 
name  of  Pur. 

Pur  is  a  Persian  word  signifying  a  part,  and  thence  denoting  a  lot. 
AYitr  the  Hebrew  plural  termination  it  becomes  purim,  "lots."  This  is  the 
name  by  which  the  feast  is  known  which  is  kept  to  commemorate  the 
deliverance  of  the  Jews  from  the  plot  of  Haman.  It  is  called  the  Feast  of 
Lots  because  Haman  in  his  superstition  resorted  to  divination  for  the  pur 
pose  of  ascertaining  when  he  could  most  effectually  destroy  the  Jews.  See 
Esther  iii,  7.  Some  think  that  the  name  was  given  in  irony,  as  denoting 
the  contempt  in  which  the  Jews  held  Haman  and  his  divination. 

There  is  a  tradition  that  the  introduction  of  this  feast  among  the  Jews 
met  with  some  opposition,  though  it  afterward  became  generally  observed. 
The  day  before  the  feast  is  kept  as  a  solemn  fast.  On  the  day  of  the 
feast  the  people  assemble  in  the  synagogue,  where  the  book  of  Esther  is  read 
amid  clapping  of  hands  and  stamping  of  feet,  as  demonstrations  of  contempt 
for  Hainan  and  of  joy  for  the  deliverance  of  the  Jews.  After  leaving  the 
synagogue  there  are  great  feasts  at  home,  which  have  been  sometimes 
carried  to  such  excess  that  some  writers  have  called  the  Feast  of  Purim  the 
Bacchanalia  of  the  Jews. 



1,8.  His  substance  also  was  seven  thousand  sheep,  and  three 
thousand  camels,  and  five  hundred  yoke  of  oxen,  and  five 
hundred  she-asses. 

Among  people  of  pastoral  and  nomadic  habits  it  is  natural  to  estimate 
wealth,  not  by  houses  and  lands,  but  by  the  number  of  animals  owned. 
Abram  was  very  rich  in  cattle.  Gen.  xiii,  2.  Lot  had  flocks  and  herds.  Gen. 
xiii.  5  See  also  Gen.  xxiv,  35.  Job's  wealth,  on  the  return  of  his  pros 
perity,  was  estimated  in  like  manner.  See  Job  xiii,  12.  Special  mention  is 
made  of  she-asses  because  they  were  more  highly  valued  than  the  males  on 
account  of  their  milk,  a  nourishing  drink.  To  this  day  the  riches  of  the 
Bedawii:  are  reckoned  by  the  number  and  quality  of  their  cattle. 


II,  4  Skin  for  skin,  yea,  all  that  a  man  hath  will  he  give  for 
his  life. 

Many  interpretations  have  been  given  of  this  passage,  which  was  evidently 
a  familiar  proverb  in  the  early  times  when  Job  lived.  It  probably  Mfers  to 


some  ancient  custom  of  bartering  by  means  of  skins  of  animals  slain  in  the 
chase.  The  hungry  hunter  trades  with  the  grain  grower,  parting,  f..r  a 
supply  of  food,  with  the  skins  of  the  beasts  he  has  slain,  and  if  necessary  he 
will  exchange  all  he  has  in  order  to  obtain  bread.  As  Kitto  says  of  this 
text:  "It  will  then  express  the  necessity  of  submitting  to  one  great  evil  to 
avoid  incurring  a  greater,  answering  to  the  Turkish  proverb,  '  We  must  give 
our  beards  to  save  our  heads.' " — Daily  Bible  Illustrations,  vol.  v,  p.  83. 


V,  5.  Whose  harvest  the  hungry  eateth  up,  and  taketh  it 
even  out  of  the  thorns,  and  the  robber  swalloweth  up  their 

This  may  refer  either  to  the  thief  who  takes  all  the  grain,  even  that  which 
is  mixed  with  thorns,  or  to  a  custom  which  Dr.  Thomson  mentions  as  illus 
trating  this  text.  He  says,  "The  farmers,  after  they  have  threshed  out  the 
grain,  frequently  lay  it  aside  in  the  chaff  in  some  private  place  near  the  floor, 
and  cover  it  up  with  thorn-bushes  to  keep  it  from  being  carried  away  or 
eaten  by  auirnals.  Robbers  who  found  and  seized  this  would  literally  take 
it  from  among  the  thorns."— The  Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  i,  p.  537. 


VI,  4.  For  the  arrows  of  the  Almighty  are  within  me,  the   poi 
son   whereof  drinketh  up  my  spirit. 

An  allusion  is  doubtless  made  here  to  the  practice,  common  among  bar 
barous  nations  of  all  times,  of  dipping  the  points  of  arrows  into  some  poison 
ous  substance  for  the  purpose  of  insuring  the  death  of  the  persons  who 
might  be  struck  with  them. 


VII,  2.    As  a  servant  earnestly  desireth  the    shadow,    and    as   a 
hireling  looketh  for  the  reward  of  his  work. 

The  lengthening  shadow  indicates  the  close  of  day  and  the  termination  of 
toil,  and  is  therefore  desired  by  the  weary  laborer.  In  India  time  is  meas 
ured  by  the  length  of  one's  shadow.  If  a  man  is  asked  for  the  time  of  day, 
he  stands  erect  in  the  sunshine,  observes  where  his  shadow  terminates,  and 
then  paces  the  distance,  and  is  able  to  tell  the  time  with  considerable  accu 
racy.  A  person  wishing  to  leave  his  work  often  exclaims,  "How  long  my 
shadow  is  in  coming!  " — ROBERTS,  Oriental  Customs,  p.  261. 


IX,  25.  My  days  are  swifter  than  a  post:  they  flee  away,  they 
see  no  good. 

Swift  runners  were  often  employed  in  ancient  times  to  convey  important 
messages.  Kings  kept  a  number  of  such  in  their  eervice  as  a  part  of  ti«e 

Job.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  209 

royal  housohold.  "When  Hezekiah  sent  invitations  to  the  solemn  passover 
which  he  designed  holding  at  Jerusalem,  it  is  said  that  "the  posts  went  with 
the  letters  from  the  king  arid  his  princes  throughout  all  Israel  and  Judah." 
,2  Ohron.  xxx,  6.  In  the  time  of  Jeremiah  there  seems  to  have  been  a  regu 
lar  postal  service  established,  for  he  says,  in  prophesying  the  destruction  of 
Babylon :  "  One  post  shall  rim  to  meet  another,  and  one  messenger  to  meet 
another,  to  show  the  king  of  Babylon  that  his  city  is  taken  at  one  end."  Jer. 
li,  31.  The  Persians  also  made  use  of  swift  messengers.  The  order  com 
manding  the  murder  of  all  the  Jews  in  the  empire  was  sent  by  this  means. 
See  Esth.  iii,  13,  15.  The  order  which  neutralized  the  effect  of  this  proc 
lamation  was  sent  by  "posts  that  rode  upon  mules  and  camels."  Esth. 
viii,  14. 

While  there  may  have  been  no  systematic  communication  of  this  sort  in 
ihe  time  of  Job,  yet  it  is  evident  from  the  text  that  men  fleet  of  foot  were 
employed  when  occasion  required.  The  patriarch  compares  the  rapid  flight 
of  his  days  to  a  post;  literally,  a  runner,  a  man  hastening  with  news.  This 
was  the  swiftest  mode  of  communication  with  which  he  was  familiar,  and  his 
days  went  swifter  still. 

See  further  the  note  on  Matt,  v,  41. 

IX,  30.     If    I    wash    myself   with    snow    water,    and     make    my 
hands  never  so  clean. 

Snow  water  was  anciently  supposed  to  possess  peculiar  virtues  for 
cleansing  the  skin.  It  was  thought  that  the  skin  was  whitened  by  it,  and 
that  it  contracted  the  fibers  and  prevented  perspiration.  "In  the  fable  of 
Lockman,  No.  13,  the  black  man  rubs  his  body  with  snow  in  order  to  make 
it  white.  Therefore  Mohammed  prays,  'Lord,  wash  me  from  my  sins  white- 
with  water,  snow,  and  ice.'  " — UMBREIT,  Version  of  the  Book  of  Job. 


XII,  6.  The  tabernacles  of  robbers  prosper,  and  they  that  pro 
voke  God  are  secure. 

Robbery  has  from  a  very  early  period  of  history  been  a  common  occupa 
tion  of  lawless  men,  and  has  also  often  proved  a  profitable  employment,  as 
intimated  by  the  text.  Whole  tribes,  and  in  some  instances  entire  nations, 
adopted  it  as  a  means  of  livelihood.  The  Sa beans  stole  Job's  oxen  and 
asses,  and  "the  Chaldeans  made  out  three  bands  and  fell  upon  the  camels." 
Job  i,  15,  17.  The  Shechemites  "  set  liers  in  wait "  for  Abimelech  "in  the 
top  of  the  mountains,  and  they  robbed  all  that  came  along  that  way  by 
them."  Judges  ix,  25.  The  robbery  mentioned  in  the  parable  of  the  Good 
Samaritan  (Luke  x,  30)  frequently  found  its  counterpart  in  facts,  arid  at  the 
present  day  travelers  are  sometimes  robbed  by  predatory  bands.  4 

210  I5IBLE    MANXERS    AND   CUSTOMS.  [Job. 

410.— BOSSES. 

XV,  26.  He  runneth  upon  him,  even  on  his  neck,  upon  the 
thick  bosses  of  his  bucklers. 

The  boss  was  the  external  convex  part  of  the  round  shield, 
its  thickest  and  strongest  portion.  There  were  some  shields 
whose  shape  was  wholly  convex,  the  center  being  an  elevated 
point,  as  may  be  seen  in  the  engraving,  which  represents  an 
Assyrian  convex  shield. 

There  were  also  convex  ornaments  which  were  placed  on 
the  outside  of  shields,  adding  strength  as  well  as  beauty. 
Layard  found  at  Nimroud  circular  bronze  shields,  each  hav 
ing  an  iron  handle  fastened  by  six  nails.  The  heads  of  these 
nails  formed  bosses  on  the  outside  of  the  shield. 

In  the  text  Eliphaz  expresses  the  uselessness  of  the  attack 
„  which  the  wicked  man  makes  on  God.  by  representing  him  as 
SHIELD.  running  upon  the  most  impenetrable  part  of  the  shield. 


XV,  28.  He  dwelleth  in  desolate  cities,  and  in  houses  which  no 
man  inhabiteth,  which  are  ready  to  become  heaps. 

Many  of  the  rude  huts  in  the  East  are  made  of  small  stones  or  built  of 
mud.  The  roof  is  made  by  covering  the  beams  with  brushwood,  and  this  in 
turn  with  earth.  The  rain  soaks  into  the  earth,  and  the  weight  settling  on 
brush  and  beams  gradually  breaks  them  down  unless  there  is  an  industrious 
occupant  (see  Eccl.  x,  18)  to  keep  the  roof  in  proper  condition.  When  the 
roof  is  broken  down  the  walls  easily  fall,  and  the  whole  house  soon  becomes 
a  heap  of  ruins.  But  this  is  true  not  merely  of  such  rude  mud  huts,  but  of 
large  edifices,  temples  and  palaces,  built  of  sun-dried  brick,  as  the  ruins  of 
Babylon  and  Nineveh  amply  testify. 


XVIII,  5,  6.  Yea,  the  light  of  the  wicked  shall  be  put  out,  and 
the  spark  of  his  fire  shall  not  shine.  The  light  shall  be  dark  in 
his  tabernacle,  and  his  candle  shall  be  put  out  with  him. 

To  the  susceptible  mind  of  the  Oriental,  light  is  an  object  of  desire,  and 
darkness  something  to  be  greatly  dreaded.  The  lamp  is  usually  kept  burn 
ing  in  the  house  all  night;  and  its  light  is  used  as  an  emblem  of  prosperity, 
and  the  extinguishment  of  it  as  an  emblem  of  a  great  calamity.  Thus  Job 
speaks  of  the  days  of  his  prosperity  when  the  candle  of  the  Lord  shone 
upon  his  head.  Job  xxix,  3.  David  says,  "Thou  wilt  light  my  candle;  the 
Lord  my  God  will  enlighten  my  darkness."  Psa.  xviii,  28.  On  the  other 
hand,  we  find  Job  saying,  as  expressive  of  great  affliction:  "How oft  is  the 

Job.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  211 

Dandle  of  the  wicked  put  out."  Job  xxi,  17.  Solomon  says,  "Whoso  curseth 
his  father  or  his  mother,  his  lamp  shall  be  put  out  in  obscure  darkness." 
Prov.  xx,  20.  (i  The  candle  of  the  wicked  shall  be  put  out."  Prov.  xxiv,  20 
The  Saviour  on  two  occasions  refers  to  this  Oriental  dread  of  darkness 
where  lie  represents  the  punishment  of  the  wicked  under  the  figure  of  "outer 
darkness."  See  Mntt.  viii,  12;  xxii,  13.  Both  ideas  are  blended  in  Prov. 
xiii,  9 :  '•  The  light  of  the  righteous  rejoiceth :  but  the  lamp  of  the  wicked 
shall  be  put  out." 
See  also  Jer.  xxv,  10. 

413.— THE  NET  IN  COMBAT. 

XIX,  6.  Know  now  that  God  hath  overthrown  me,  and.  hath 
compassed  me  with  his  net. 

Some  commentators  tind  here  an  illustration  of  an  ancient  mode  of  com 
bat  practiced  among  the  Persians,  G-oths,  and  Romans.  Among  the  Romans 
one  of  the  combatants  had  a  sword  and  shield,  while  the  other  had  a  trident 
and  net.  The  latter  endeavored  to  throw  his  net  over  the  head  of  his  adver 
sary.  If  he  succeeded  in  this,  he  immediately  drew  the  net  around  his. neck 
with  a  noose  which  was  attached  to  it,  pulled  him  to  the  ground  and  dis 
patched  him  with  the  trident.  If  lie  failed  to  throw  the  net  over  the  head, 
he  in  turn  ran  the  risk  of  being  destroyed  by  his  adversary  while  seeking 
his  net  for  another  throw.  If  Job  knew  of  this  custom  in  his  day.  lie  repre 
sents  himself  in  this  text  as  having  engaged  in  a  contest  with  God,  and,  be 
ing  defeated,  he  now  lies  entangled  in  the  net  and  completely  at  the  mercy 
of  his  conqueror. 


XIX,  23,  24.  O  that  my  words  were  now  written  !  O  that  they 
were  printed  in  a  book  !  that  they  were  graven  with  an  iron 
pen  and  lead  in  the  rock  forever  !  See  also  Jer.  xvii,  1. 

Three  different  substances  for  the  preservation  of  records  are  nsualty  sup 
posed  to  be  referred  to  here: 

1.  Books.     These  were  anciently  made  of  linen  or  cotton  cloth,  skins,  or 
the  leaves  of  the  papyrus.     From  the  last  word  comes  our   English  word, 
paper.     The  inner  bark  of  trees  was  also  sometimes  used.     The  Latin  word 
for  bark  being  liber,  this  word  at  length  came  to  signify  a  book  ;  it  is  still 
found  in  the  English  word  library.     When  made  of  cloth  or  skins  t^e  book 
was  made  up  in  the  form  of  a  roll.     See  note  on  Isa.  xxxiv,  4. 

2.  Leaden   tablets.     These  are   of  high  antiquity.     In    1699    MontfauQon 
bought  at  Rome  a  very  old  book  entirely  made  of  lead.     It  was  about  four 
inches  long  and  three  wide,  and  had  a  cover  and  six  leaves  or  sheets.     The 
hinges  and  nails  were  also  made  of  lead.     The  volume  contained  Egyptian 
gnostic  figures  and  inscriptions  in  Greek  and  Etruscan  characters.       4 

212  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Job.  . 

In  a  temple  in  the  Carian  city  of  Cnidus,  erected  in  honor  of  Hades  and 
Persephone,  about  the  fourth  century  before  Christ,  the  women  were  in  the 
habit  of  depositing  thin  sheets  of  lead  on  which  were  written  the  names  of 
persons  they  hated,  together  with  their  misdeeds.  They  also  inscribed  on 
the  lead  tablets  imprecations  against  those  who  had  thus  injured  them. 
Many  of  these  tablets  were  discovered  in  1858  when  excavations  were 
made  in  the  ruins  of  the  temple.  They  are  now  in  the  British  Museum. 

It  is  not.  however,  certain  that  Job  in  the  text  refers  to  leaden  tablets  or 
leaves  on  which  inscriptions  were  made.  He  may  have  alluded  to  the  cus 
tom  of  first  cutting  letters  in  stone  and  then  filling  them  up  with  molten 
lead.  There  are  indications  that  some  of  the  incised  letters  in  Assyrian 
monuments  were  filled  with  metal.  M.  Botta  states  that  the  letters  on  the 
pavement  slabs  of  Khorsabad  give  evidence  of  having  been  filled  with  cop 
per.  See  LAYARD'S  Nineveh  and  its  Remains,  vol.  ii,  p.  188. 

3.  Stone  monuments.  The  law  was  originally  written  on  tables  of  stone 
"with  the  finger  of  God."  Exod.  xxxi,  18.  The  second  set  of  tables  were 
written  by  Moses  by  Divine  command.  Exod.  xxxiv,  4,  28.  Joshua  copied 
the  law  on  the  stone  altar  at  Mount  Ebal.  Josh,  viii,  32.  This  mode  of 
recording  important  truths  or  events  was  very  common  in  ancient  times. 
Job  desires  that  his  sentiments  should  be  thus  engraved,  that  generations  to 
come  might  read  the  record. 

The  stone  records  of  ancient  Oriental  nations,  which  modern  discoveries 
have  brought  to  light,  are  all  illustrations  of  the  custom  which  Job  evidently 
had  in  mind.  Many  of  these  bear  on  Scripture  facts  and  history,  confirming 
and  supplementing  the  sacred  record.  The  most  remarkable,  in  some 
respects,  of  any  of  these  ancient  monuments  is  the  famous  Moabite  stone, 
the  discovery  of  which  in  the  year  1868  created  such  intense  excitement 
among  biblical  scholars  and  antiquarians.  This  is  the  very  oldest  Semitic 
inscription  of  importance  as  yet  discovered,  arid  is  the  only  one  thus  far 
found  which  reaches  back  to  the  age  of  the  Jewish  monarchy.  It  gives  the 
Moabitish  account  of  the  conflict  described  in  the  third  chapter  of  the  Second 
Book  of  Kings. 

415.— HOUSES  OF  CLAY. 

XXIV,  1C.  In  the  dark  they  dig  through  houses,  which  they 
had  marked  for  themselves  in  the  daytime. 

This  refers  to  houses  that  are  built  of  clay.  Of  these  there  are  several 
varieties.  Some  have  a  framework  of  wicker  hurdles  thickly  daubed  with 
mud.  In  others  the  walls  are  made  of  layers  of  mud  placed  one  over  the 
other,  each  drying  before  the  next  is  put  on.  Others  still  are  made  of  sun- 
dried  bricks.  This  style  of  building  is  very  ancient,  and  is  still  common  in 
many  parts  of  the  East.  A  i.hief  might  easily  bicak  through  a  wall  of  this 


kind,   and   modern  thieves  are   as  ready  to  do  it  as  were  the  burglars  who 
aved  in  the  days  of  Job. 

Houses  like  these  are  referred  to  by  Eliphaz  in  Job  iv,  19,  where  he 
speaks  of  "  houses  of  clay,  whose  foundation  is  in  the  dust,  which  are 
crushed  before  the  moth;"  and  also  in  Ezek.  xii,  5,  where  the  prophet  is 
commanded,  in  a  figurative  way,  to  dig  "  through  the  wall."  The  Saviour 
also  refers  to  them  when  he  speaks  of  thieves  breaking  through  to  steal, 
(Matt,  vi,  19,)  and  of  the  house  which  was  broken  up  by  the  thief.  Matt. 
xxiv,  43.  The  frailty  of  the  walls  of  such  houses  is  also  probably  referred 
to  in  Psa.  Ixii,  3,  and  Isa.  xxx,  13. 

XXIV,  20.    The    worm    shall   feed   sweetly  on  him ;    he    shall  be 
no  more  remembered. 

It  is  an  Oriental  opinion  that  worms  exist  in  the  skin  and  in  all  parts  of 
the  body,  and  that  they  are  among  the  principal  causes  of  its  destruction. 
Roberts'  (Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  271)  quotes  from  an  ancient  Indian 
medical  work  in  which  eighteen  kinds  of  worms  are  enumerated  by  the 
author  in  as  many  different  parts  of  the  body.  In  Job  xix,  26,  the  translators 
have  supplied  the  word  worms :  "  Though  after  my  skin  worms  destroy  this 
body."  Though  the  word  is  not  in  the  original,  yet  the  sentiment  is  in 
accordance  with  the  text  we  are  now  illustrating  and  with  several  other 
passages.  See  Job  vii,  5;  xvii,  14;  xxi,  26;  Isa.  xiv,  11.  In  India  it  is 
common  for  a  sick  man  to  say,  "  Ah,  my  body  is  but  a  nest  for  worms; 
they  have  paths  in  all  parts  of  my  frame !  "  "  Ah,  these  worms  are  con 
tinually  eating  my  flesh  !  " 


XXVII,  16.  Though  he  heap  up  silver  as  the  dust,  and  prepare 
raiment  as  the  clay. 

The  Eastern  people  have  always  reckoned  collections  of  raiment  among 
their  choice  treasures,  and  estimate  them  in  the  accounts  of  their  wealth 
along  with  gold  and  silver.  This  is  seen  in  the  text,  and  is  also  to  be  found 
in  the  injunction  of  the  Saviour  in  Matt,  vi,  19,  where,  in  speaking  of  the 
uncertain  character  of  worldly  wealth,  he  refers  to  the  ravages  of  the  moth 
upon  the  treasures  of  raiment.  So  Paul  in  his  address  at  Miletus  to  the 
elders  of  Ephesus,  says,  "I  have  coveted  no  man's  silver,  or  gold,  or 
apparel."  Acts  xx,  33.  He  also  refers  to  the  value  of  garments  in  1  Tim. 
ii,  9,  where  he  speaks  of  "  costly  array."  James  likewise  says  in  his  epistle, 
chapter  v,  2,  "  Your  riches  are  corrupted  and  your  garments  are  moth-eaten." 

See  also  the  note  on  Gen.  xlv,  22. 




XXIX,  6.    The  rock  poured  me  out  rivers  of  oil. 

Some  tliink  the  reference  here  is  to  the  fact  that  the  olive-tree  sometimes 
grows  in  very  rocky  soil ;  but  allusion  is  more  probably  made  to  stone  oil- 


presses,  from  which  the  oil  flowed  like  a  river.     See  also  Ezek.  xxxii,  14. 
Moses  speaks  of  oil  being  sucked  "out  of  the  flinty  rock."  Deut.  xxxii,  13. 


XXXI,  17.  Or  have  eaten  rny  morsel  myself  alone,  and  the  fa 
therless  hath  not  eaten  thereof. 

It  is  a  part  of  Oriental  etiquette  to  invite  others  to  partake  of  food.  See 
note  on  Gen.  xviii,  2,  3.  Dr.  Shaw  says,  referring  to  his  travels  in  Arabia : 
"  No  sooner  was  our  food  prepared,  whether  it  was  potted  flesh  boiled  with 
rice,  a  lentil  soup,  or  unleavened  cakes  served  up  with  oil  or  honey,  than 
one  of  the  Arabs,  (not  to  eat  his  morsel  alone,)  after  having  placed  himself  on 
the  highest  spot  of  ground  in  the  neighborhood,  calls  out  thrice,  with  a  loud 
voice,  to  all  his  brethren,  Tlie  sons  of  the  faithful,  to  come  and  partake  of  it ; 
though  none  of  them  were  in  view,  or  perhaps  within  a  hundred  miles  of  us. 
This  custom,  however,  they  maintain  to  be  a  token  at  least  of  their  great 
benevolence,  as  indeed  it  would  have  been  of  their  hospitality,  provided  they 
could  have  had  an  opportunity  to  show  it." — Travels,  Preface,  p.  xii. 

XXXVIII,  14.    It  is  turned  as  clay  to  the  seal. 

The  bricks  of  Egypt,  Babylonia,  and  Assyria  bear  marks  which  have 
evidently  been  made  with  a  seal.  Egyptian  wine  jars  and  mummy  pits 
were  sometimes  sealed  with  clay.  There  have  been  found  in  Assvria 


public  documents  made  of  clay,  and  having  the  letters  stamped  in  them,  and 
the  marks  of  official  sealing.  In  the  East,  doors  of  granaries  or  of  treasure 
rooms  are  to  this  day  sometimes  sealed  with 
clay,  so  that  it  is  impossible  to  enter  without 
first  breaking  the  seal.  The  sepulcher  of  Christ 
was  probably  sealed  in  this  way.'  See  note  on 
Matt,  xxvii,  66.  Clay  is  used  in  preference  to 
wax  because  the  former  hardens  with  the  heat, 
while  the  latter  melts.  The  engraving  repre 
sents  a  lump  of  clay  from  Assyria,  having  sev 
eral  impressions  of  seals  upon  it. 

For  description  of  seals,  see  note  on  1  Kings 
.    0  81. — IMPRESSIONS  OF  SEALS. 

xxi,  o. 


XLI,  2.  Canst  them  put  a  hook  into  his  nose?  or  bore  his  jaw 
through  with  a  thorn  ? 

1.  Agmon,  "hook,"  is  more  correctly  a  rush-cord  or  rope  made  of  reeds, 
(Gesenius;)  and  the  question  of  the  text  suggests  the  wonderful  strength  of 
the  leviathan  by  the  impossibility  of  putting  a  rope  around  his  nose,  thus 
binding  his  jaws. 

2.  Choach,   "  thorn,"  is  really  a  ring ;  and  the  text  probably  refers  to  a 
custom,  very  ancient  and  still  practiced,  of  inserting  a  strong  iron  ring  into 
the  jaw  of  a  fish  as  soon  as  caught.     A  cord  is  fastened  to  the  ring  and  the 
fish  is  let  down  into  the  water,  where  it  remains  until  the  fisherman  has  an 
opportunity  of  selling  it. 


XLI,  7.  Canst  thou  fill  his  skin  with  barbed  irons  ?  or  his  head 
with  fish-spears? 

There  is  an  allusion  here  to  an  instrument  resembling  the  bident  or  two- 
tongued  fish-spear  in  use  by  the  Egyptians,  and  frequently  depicted  on  the 
monuments.  This  spear  was  a  slender  rod  some  ten  or  twelve  feet  long, 
doubly  feathered  at  the  end,  like  a  modern  arrow.  It  had  two  sharp 
points  about  two  feet  in  length,  and  on  these  the  fish  were  impaled.  The 
fisherman  pushed  along  the  Nile  in  a  flat-bottomed  boat  among  the  papyrus 
reeds  arid  lotus  plants,  and  on  seeing  his  finny  prey  drove  the  weapon  with 
his  right  hand,  steadying  it  through  a  curve  in  his  left. 


XLII,  10.  The  Lord  turned  the  captivity  of  Job,  when  he  prayed 
for  his  friends:  also  the  Lord  gave  Job  twice  as  much  as  he 
had  before. 

r    This,  in  the  figurative  language  of  the  East,  means  that  the  Lord  restored 
Job  to  his  former  prosperity.     Roberts  says,  "A  man  formerly  in  great^ros- 


perity  speaks  of  his  present  state  as  if  he  were  in  prison.  '  I  am  now  a 
captive.  Yes,  I  am  a  slave.'  If  he  be  again  providentially  elevated,  it  is 
observed,  '  His  captivity  is  changed.'  " — Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  302.  David 
says,  "Bring  my  soul  out  of  prison,'  that  I  may  praise  thy  name."  Psa. 
cxlii,  7. 


XLII,  11.  Then  came  there  unto  him  all  his  brethren,  and  all 
his  sisters,  and  all  they  that  had  been  of  his  acquaintance  be 
fore,  and  did  eat  bread  with  him  in  his  house.  .  .  .  Every 
man  also  gave  him.  a  piece  of  money,  and  every  one  an  ear 
ring  of  gold. 

1.  It  is  said  to  be  still  a  custom  in  some  parts  of  the  East  for  friends  and 
relatives  to   visit,  at   some   previously  appointed  time,  a  man  in   trouble, 
bringing  with  them  presents  to  supply  his  wants,  and  to  make  up  for  what 
ever  losses  he  may  have  sustained  by  his  calamity.     After  partaking  of  a 
feast,  prepared  by  the  host,  the  guests  leave  their  gifts,   and  express  their 
desire  for  his  future  prosperity. 

2.  On  the  meaning  of  "  a  piece  of  money,"  (kesitah,)  see  note  on  Gen. 
xxxiii,  19. 


XLII,  14.  He  called  the  name  of  the  first,  Jemima  ;  and  the 
name  of  the  second,  Kezia  ;  and  the  name  of  the  third, 

Rosenmiiller  has  the  following  note  on  this  verse :  "  A  Jewish  writer, 
Solomon  Jarchi,  correctly  remarks  that  the  names  of  the  daughters  of  Job 
indicate  their  beauty,  as  it  is  said  in  the  fifteenth  verse:  'And  in  all  the 
land  were  no  women  found  so  fair  as  the  daughters  of  Job.'  The  first  name, 
Jemima,  means  resembling  a  dear  day,  (with  the  brilliancy  of  its  beauty)— 
fair  as  the  day.  So,  according  to  Hesychiu*,  Hamera,  that  is,  day,  was  a 
surname  of  Diana.  The  second  name,  Kezia,  means  Cassia,  one  of  the 
most  valuable  spices  of  antiquity.  The  third  name,  Keren-happuch,  means 
Horn  of  the  Eye-paint,  that  is,  a  vessel  made  of  horn,  wherein  the  Oriental 
women  kept  the  paint  which  they  used  for  their  eyes.  Thomas  Roe,  in  his 
Travels,  remarks  that  the  Persians  are  accustomed  to  give  their  women 
names  which  mean  spices,  fragrant  ointments,  pearls  or  precious  stones,  or 
something  otherwise  beautiful  and  delightful." — Morgenland,  vol.  iii,  p.  B75. 

It  is  proper  to  say,  however,  that  the  etymology  above  given  is  disputed 
by  some  authorities.     Gesenius  derives  Jemima  from  an  Arabic  word  sig 
nifying  dove.     Dr.   Alexander,   editor  of  Kitto's  Cyclopedia,  defines  Keren- 
happuch,  Horn  of  adornment,  or  Horn  of  beauty.     These  interpretations,  as  « 
much  as  the  others  given,  represent  the  names  as  names  of  beauty. 






1,  8.  He  shall  be  like  a  tree  planted  by  the  rivers  of  water, 
that  bringeth  forth  his  fruit  in  his  season. 

Several  commentators  call  attention  to  the  fact  that  palge-mayim,  here 
rendered  "rivers  of  water,"  literally  means  divisions  of  waters ;  and  refer 
ence  is  supposed  to  be  made  to  a  very  favorite  mode  of  irrigation  in  some 
Eastern  countries.  Canals  are  dug  in  every  direction,  arid  through  these  the 


water  is  carried,  to  the  great  improvement  of  vegetation.  Egypt  was  once 
covered  with  these  canals,  and  in  this  way  the  waters  of  the  Nile  wore 
carried  to  everv  part  of  the  valley  through  which  the  river  ran.  Some 
Eastern  garden*  are  so  arranged  that  water  is  conveyed  around  every  plot, 
and  even  to  every  tree.  Allusion  is  probably  made  to  this  custom  in  Ezek. 
xxxi,  3,  4,  where  "the  Assyrian"  is  spoken  of  as  "a  cedar."  "  The  waters 
made  him  great,  the  deep  set  him  up  ou  high  with  her  rivers  running 
around  about  .his  plants,  and  sent  out  her  little  rivers  unto  all  the  trees  of 
the  field."  We  do  not  know  that  this  ancient  custom  existed  so  early  as 



the  time  of  Job,  but  chapter  xxxviii,  25,  of  the  Book  of  Job  seems  to  indi 
cate  it:  "Who  hath  divided  a  watercourse  for  the  overflowing  of  waters," 
etc.  Solomon  says,  "The  king's  heart  is  in  the  hand  of  the  Lord,  as  the 
rivers  of  water:  he  turneth  it  whithersoever  he  will."  Prov.  xxi,  L  In 
enumerating  the  many  works  of  his  reign  the  same  king  says,  "  I  made  me 
gardens  and  orchards,  and  I  planted  trees  in  them  of  all  kind  of  truits.  I 
made  me  pools  of  water,  to  water  therewith  the  wood  that  bringeth  forth 
trees."  Eccles.  ii,  5.  6. 

See  note  on  Deut.  xi,  10.  See  also  Isa.  i,  30;  Iviii,  11;  Jer.  xvii,  8; 
xxxi,  12. 

Several  methods  are  adopted  for  conveying  the  water  from  a  river  to  the 
canals  which  run  through  the  gardens.  Sometimes  large  wheels  are  so  set 
that  while  the  bottom  enters  the  water,  the  top  is  a  little  above  the  level 
of  the  bank.  The  circumference  of  every  wheel  has  earthen  jugs  fastened 
to  it.  The  turning  of  the  wheel,  either  by  the  current  or  by  oxen,  plunges 
the  jugs  under  the  water  and  fills  them  ;  wlven  the  jugs  rise  to  the  top  of 
the  bank  they  empty  themselves  into  a  channel  prepared  for  the  pur 
pose,  and  the  water  is  thus  conveyed  to  the  garden.  Sometimes  the  water 
is  raised  from  the  river  to  the  canal  on  the  bank  by  means  of  a  shadoof,  or 
well-sweep,  very  similar  to  the  old-fashioned  machine  for  drawing  water 
from  wells  in  our  own  country — a  horizontal  pole,  hung  on  a  perpendicular 
one,  having  a  bucket  at  one  end  and  a  balance  of  stories  at  the  other. 


II,  12.  Kiss  the  Son,  lest  he  be  angry  and  ye  perish  from  the 
way  ;  when  his  wrath  is  kindled  but  a  little. 

When  Samuel  anointed  Saul  h-  kissed  the  newly  make  king.  This  act  of 
homage  was  a  recogni  ion  of  his  royalty.  1  Sam.  x,  1.  It  is  a  custom  still 
observed  in  India  and  Arab'a.  In  this  way  the  Psalmist  desires  all  men  to 
recognize  the  royalty  of  the  Son.  Kissing  was  an  act  of  worship  among 
idolaters.  See  1  Kings  xix,  IS;  Job  xxxi,  27:  Hosea  xiii,  2.  Instead  of 
worshiping  idols,  God  would  have  us  worship  his  son  Jesus  Christ. 

An  interesting  incident  is  given  in  Irby  and  Mangle's  Travels  showing 
Low  kisaing  was  used  as.  a  token  of  reconciliation.  The  circumstance 
recorded  occurred  near  P.etra. 

"While  we  were  deliberating  on  this  subject,  we  saw  a  great  cavalcade 
entering  our  camp  from  the  southward.  There  were  many  mounted  Arabs 
with  lances,  and  we  observed  that  there  were  some  amongst  the  horsemen 
who  wore  richer  turbans,  and  of  more  gaudy  colors,  than  is  usunl  amongst 
Bedouins  or  peasants.  As  the  procession  advanced,  several  of  Abon 
B-aschid's  Arabs  went  out  and  led  the  horses  of  the  chiefs  by  the  bridles 
into  the  camp.  The  whole  procession  alighted  at  the  tent  of  our  chief,  and 

Psalms.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  219 

kissed  hig  turban  ;  this  was  the  signal  of  pacification.  Peace  was  immedi 
ately  proclaimed  throughout  the  camp,  and  notice  was  given  that  men  bear 
ing  arms,  who  had  come  from  a  distance,  many  of  whom  had  joined  us  that 
very  morning,  were  to  return  to  their -respective  homes:1— Travels  in  Eqvvt 
etc.,  p.  122.  ' 


X,  8.  He  sitteth  in  the  lurking  .places  of  the  villages:  in  the 
secret  places  doth  he  murder  the  innocent. 

This  is  an  accurate  description  of  the  habit  of  the  Bedawin  of  the  present 
day.  They  watch  for  booty  in  villages,  or  "in  the  wilderness,"  (see  Jer. 
iii,  2.)  anywhere  where  they  can  be  hidden  from  view  and  where  they  may 
hope  to  find  an  unwary  passer-by.  They  do  not  hesitate  to  add  murder  to 
robbery  if,  in  their  opinion,  necessity  demands  it. 

See  also  Psa.  Ivi,  6;  Prov.  i,  11;  Jer.  v,  26. 

XXIII,  5.    Thou  anointest  my    head  with   oil  ;     my  cup    runneth 


Anointing  was  an  ancient  custom  practiced  by  the  Egyptians,  and  after 
ward  by  the  Greeks  and  Romans  and  other  nations.  Olive  oil  was  used, 
(see  note  on  Psa.  xcii,  10,)  either  pure  or  mixed  with  fragrant  and  costly 
spices,  often  brought  from  a  long  distance.  See  note  on  Matt,  xxvi,  7.  The 
practice  was  in  use,  not  only  as  a  part  of  the  ceremony  in  connection  with 
the  coronation  of  kings,  (see  note  on  2  Kings  xi,  12.)  and  at  the  installation 

f  the  High  Priest,  (Psa.  cxxxiii,  2.)  but  as  an  act  of  courtesy  and  hospitality 
toward  a  guest.  Thus,  the  Lord  accuses  Simon  of  a  want  of  hospitality  in 
neglecting  to  anoint  the  head  of  him  whom  lie  had  invited  to  eat  with  him. 
Luke  vii,  46.  There  are  pictures  on  the  Egyp 
tian  monuments  representing  guests  having 
their  heads  anointed.  Oil  was  used  for  other 
parts  of  the  body  as  well  as  for  the  head,  and 
at  home  as  well  as  when  visiting.  The  bibli 
cal  references  to  the  custom  are  numerous. 
See  Deut.  xxviii,  40  ;  Ruth  iii,  3  ;  P.-a.  xcii,  10 ; 
civ,  15:  Eccl.  ix,  8;  Micah  vi,  15;  Matt! 
vi,  17.  The  neglect  of  anointing  was  con 
sidered  a  sign  of  mourning.  See  2  Sam.  xiv.  2  ;  .....  ^__,_^ _^ 

Dan.  x,  3.      An   anointed   face,   on   the  other          83.— ANOINTING  A  GUEST. 
hand  was  a  sign  of  joy;    hence  we  read  of  being  anointed   with   the  "oil 
of  gladness."  Psa.  xlv,  7 ;  H*  b.  i,  9. 

Tavernier  state,  that  he  found  the  Arabs  always  ready  to  accept  present 

220  BIBLE    MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Psalms. 

of  olive  oil.  As  soon  as  one  received  it  he  lifted  his  turban  and  anointed 
his  bead,  his  face,  and  his  beard,  at  the  same  time  lifting  his  eyes  to  heaven 
and  saying,  "  God  be  thanked  !  " 

Captain  Wilson,  an  Oriental  traveler,  speaking  of  the  custom  alluded  to  in 
this  passage,  says:  "I  once  had  this  ceremony  performed  on  myself  in  the 
house  of  a  great  and  rich  Indian,  in  the  presence  of  a  large  company.  The 
gentleman  of  the  house  poured  upon  my  hands  and  arms  a  delightful  odor 
iferous  perfume,  put 'a  golden,  cup  into  my  hands,  and  poured  wine  into  it 
until  it  ran  over ;  assuring  me,  at  the  same  time,  that  it  was  a  great  pleasure 
to  him  to  receive  me,  and  that  I  should  find  a  rich  supply  in  his  house." 
— BURDER,  Oriental  Customs,  No.  539. 

The  Psalmist  in  the  text  represents  himself  as  an  honored  guest  of  Jehovah, 
who  prepares  a  table  for  him,  hospitably  anoints  him,  and  puts  into  his 
hands  a  full  cup. 


XXIV,  7.  Lift  up  your  heads,  O  ye  gates  ;  and  be  ye  lifted  up, 
ye  everlasting  doors. 

Allusion  is  thought  to  be  made  here  to  the  custom  of  hanging  gates  so 
that,  instead  of  opening  in  the  ordinary  way,  they  rise  and  fall  as  they  open 
and  shut.  A  gate  of  this  description  was  called  cataracta,  because  of  the  force 
and  noise  with  which  it  fell.  It  was  used  in  the  fortification  of  towns,  and 
corresponded  to  the  portcullis  of  modern  times;  and  is  supposed  to  have 
been  known  in  the  time  of  David.  See  SMITH'S  Dictionary  of  Greek  and 
Roman  Antiquities,  s.  v.  Cataracta. 


XXVI,  6.  I  will  wash  mine  hands  in  innoeeney:  so  will  I 
compass  thine  altar,  O  Lord. 

There  were  several  occasions  on  which  the  Jews  were  accustomed  to 
wash  their  hands'in  connection  with  religious  rites.  The  Psalmist  may  have 
had  one  or  all  of  these  in  mind  when  he  uttered  the  text.  See  also  Psa. 
Ixxiii,  13. 

1.  There  was  the  washing  required  of  the  priests  in  the  service  of  the 
tabernacle  and  temple.     The  brazen  laver  was  made  for  this  purpose.     See 
Exod.  xl,  30-32.     It  is  said  to  have  been  customary  for  the  priests,  when 
they  had  bound  the  sacrifice  to  the  horns  of  the  altar  to  march  around  it, 
after  they  had  washed  their  hands.     Thus  David  says,  "  So  will  I  compass 
thine  altar,  0  Lord." 

2.  The  Jews  were  also  accustomed  to  wash  their  hands  before  engaging 
in  prayer.     Paul  is  thought  to  refer  to  this  in  the  expression  i:holy  hands" 
in  1  Tim.  ii,  8. 

Psalms.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  221 

3.  There  were  certain  ceremonies  directed  to  be  observed  in  cases  of  mur 
der  where  the  murderer  was  unknown.  The  elders  of  the  city  nearest  to 
which  the  body  of  the  murdered  man  was  found  were  directed  to  strike  off 
a  heifer's  head,  arid  then  it  is  commanded  that  they  "  shall  wash  their 
hands  over  the  heifer  that  is  beheaded  in  the  valley:  and  they  shall  answer 
and  say,  Our  hands  have  not  shed  this  blood,  neither  have  our  eyes  seen  it." 
Dent,  xxi,  6,  7.  This  was  considered  a  most  solemn  asseveration  on  their 
part  of  their  innocence  in  the  matter.  Pilate,  though  a  Gentile,  had  prob 
ably  lived  long  enough  among  the  Jews  to  understand  this  custom,  and  is, 
therefore,  supposed  to  refer  to  it  when,  ou  the  demand  of  the  people  that 
Barabbas  be  freed  and  Jesus  crucified,  "  he  took  water,  and  washed  hi.s 
hands  before  the  multitude,  saying,  I  am  innocent  of  the  blood  of  this  just 
person  :  see  ye  to  it."  Malt,  xxvii,  24.  The  custom  is  said  to  have  been 
Gentile  as  well  as  Jewish ;  but  this  is  denied.  See  BLOOMFIELD,  Greek  Tes 
tament;  Note  on  Malt,  xxvii,  24. 

Since  David  desires  in  this  text  to  symbolize  inward  purity  by  outward 
washing,  any  one  of  these  customs  may  serve  for  illustration. 


XXXIII,  2.  Sing  unto  him  with  the  psaltery,  and  an  instru 
ment  of  ten  strings. 

These  two    instruments,   the   "  psaltery "   and    "  the    instrument   of  ten 
strings,"  (see  also  Psa.  xcii,  3 ;  cxliv,  9,)  are  supposed  to  have  been  the  same, 
the  one  term  being  used  to  explain  the  other. 
The  shape  of  the  nelel,  or  psaltery,  is  un 
known.     Some  suppose  it  to  have  been  like 
an  inverted  Delta,  y-      Others,  from  the 
name,  imagine  that  it  was  shaped  like  a 
leathern  bottle,  the  word  nelel  having  that 
signification.     A  skin  bottle  inverted  and 
an  inverted  Delta  would  in  general  shape  • 
be  similar,  so  that  both  ideas  may  be  cor 
rect.   Others  think  that  it  was  shaped  some-     84.— ASSYRIAN  TRIANGULAR  LYRE. 
what  like  a  guitar,  and  that  it  resembled 
that  instrument  in  its  general  style. 

Josephus  says.  "  The  psaltery  had  twelve  musical  notes,  and  was  played 
upon  by  the  fingers." — Antiquities,  Book  vii,  chapter  12,  §  3.  These  twelve 
"notes"  are  supposed  to  have  been  represented  by  twelve  strings,  whereas 
the  texts  above  cited  speak  of  but  ten.  It  may  be  that  the  number  differed 
in  different  varieties  of  the  instrument.  If  we  suppose  these  varieties  to 
have  been  designated  by  the  number  of  th'eir  strings,  we  may  find  the 
reason  for  the  explanatory  clause  of  the  Psalmist,  the  kind  of  psaltery  to 




which  he  specially  refers  being  the  one  Kno~vn  as  "  the  ten-stringed."     The 

strings,  whatever  their  number,  were  stretched  over  a  wooden  frame.  2  Sam. 

vi,  5;  1  Kings  x,  12. 

When  the  nebel  was  invented  and 
when  it  name  into  use  among  the 
Hebrews  is  unknown.  It  is  first  men 
tioned  in  connection  with  the  inaugu 
ration  of  King  Saul.  When  the  com 
pany  of  young  prophets  met  him, 
shortly  after  Samuel  had  anointed  him. 
one  of  the  instruments  on  which  they 
played  was  the  nebel.  1  Sam.  x,  5.  It 
was  used  in  Divine  worship.  See 
2  Sam.  vi,  5 ;  1  Chron.  xiii,  8 ; 
xv,  16;  xvi,  5;  xxv,  1;  Amos  v,  23. 
It  was  also  used  on  festive  occasions. 
See  Isa.  v,  12;  xiv,  11;  Amos  vi,  5. 
(In  these  last  passages  and  in  Amos 
v,  23,  nebel  is  rendered  viol  in  our  En 
glish  version.)  From  1  Chron.  xiii,  8  ; 
xv,  16,  and  Arnos  v,  23,  it  appears 
that  the  nebel  was  used  to  accompany 

5. — ASSYRIAN  LYRE  WITH  TEN  STRINGS,     the  voice. 


XXXV,  13.      I    humbled   my  soul   with  fasting,   and    my  prayer 
returned  into  mine    own   bosom. 

Reference  is  thought  to  be  made  here  to  the  custom  among  Orientals  of 
praying  with  the  head  inclined  forward  until  the  face  is  almost  hidden  in 
the  bosom  of  the  garment. 


XL,  6.    Mine  ears  hast  thou  opened. 

The  Psalmist  uses  this  expression  to  denote  the  fact  that  he  is  a  servant 
of  God,  ready  to  do  his  will,  as  he  further  declares  in  the  eighth  verse.  He 
seems  to  have  in  his  mind  the  ceremony  by  which  a  Hebrew  -servant,  if 
unwilling  to  leave  his  master,  might  be  bound  to  him  for  life.  "Then  his 
master  shall  bring  him  unto  the  judges;  he  shall  also  bring  him  to  the  door, 
or  unto  the  door  post;  and  his  master  shall  bore  his  ear  through  with  an 
awl;  and  he  shall  serve  him  for  ever."  Exod.  xxi,  6.  See  also  Dent. 
xv,  16,  17.  This  custom  was' observed,  not  only  by  the  Jews,  but  also  by 
many  other  ancient  nations. 

Psalms.J  BIBLE    MAXNEHS   AND   CUSTOMS.  223 


XLI,  9.  "Yea,  mine  own  familiar  friend,  in  whom  I  trusted, 
which  did  eat  of  my  bread,  hath  lifted  up  his  heel  against 

It  is  considered  an  act  of  great  baseness  among  Eastern  nations  for  any 
one  to  do  an  evil  deed  agninst  those  who  have  shared  his  hospitality.  This 
feeling  is  very  ancient,  and  is  often  alluded  to  by  ancient  authors.  The 
Saviour  refers  to  it  when  he  mentions  the  baseness  of  Judas,  and  cites  this 
very  passage  from  the  Psalmist.  John  xiii.  \8.  See  also  Obadiah  7.  Sim 
ilar  to  this  notion  of  the  sacredness  of  hospitality,  though  more  binding  in  its 
nature,  was  "the  covenant  of  salt."  See  note  on  Lev.  ii,  13. 


XLV,  8.  All  thy  garments  smell  of  myrrh,  and  aloes,  and 

In  many  parts  of  the  East  the  people  are  excessively  fond  of  perfuming 
their  garments,  sometimes  making  the  fragrance  so  strong  that  Europeans 
can  scarcely  endure  it.  They  sprinkle  their  clothing  with  sweet  scented 
oils  extracted  from  spices  or  sandal  wood,  and  with  a  great  variety  of 
strongly  perfumed  waters.  They  fumigate  them  with  powerful  incense  or 
by  burning  scented  wood?.  They  make  use  of  camphor,  civet  wood,  sandal 
wood,  aloes,  and  even  sometimes  sew  chips  of  perfumed  wood  into  the 
garments.  Reference  is  made  to  this  custom  in  Sol.  Song  iv,  11:  "The 
smell  of  thy  garments  is  like  the  smell  of  Lebanon;  "  and  possibly  in  Hosea 
xiv,  6.  Most  commentators  suppose  an  allusion  to  this  custom  to  be  made 
also  in  Gen.  xxvii.  27,  where  Isaac  kissed  Jacob,  and  it  is  said,  "  he  smelled 
the  smell  of  his  raiment,  and  blessed  him  and  said,  See,  the  smell  of  my  sou 
is  as  the  smell  of  a  field  which  the  Lord  hath  blessed."  This,  however,  is 
disputed  by  some.  Kurtz  refers  to  Tuch's  view  of  the  passage,  and  agrees 
with  his  interpretation.  "  We  must,  therefore,  agree  with  Tuch,  that  an 
aromatic  smell  of  the  herbs,  flowers,  and  other  produce  of  the  field,  must 
have  been  felt  off  the  garments  of  Esau,  who  was  '  a  man  of  the  field  ;  '  a 
supposition  this  which  involves  no  difficulty,  considering  that  the  country 
was  so  rich  in  aromatic  and  smelling  herbs." — History  of  the  Old  Covenant, 
vol.  i,  p.  298. 

437.— USE  OF  HYSSOP. 

LI,  T.    Purge  me  with   hyssop  and   I   shall  be   clean. 

Hyssop  was  appointed  to  be  used  in  ceremonial  purification.  It  was  used 
in  connection  with  the  passover,  (Exod.  xii,  22,)  the  cleansing  of  lepers, 
(Lev.  xiv,  4,  6.  49,  51,  52,)  and  the  sacrifice  of  the  red  heifer.  Num.  xix, 

224  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Psalms, 

6,  18.     See  also  Heb.  ix,  19.     Hyssop  was  anciently  considered  a  means  of 
actual  bodily  purification,  and  was  even  taken  internally  for  that  purpose. 


LVI,  8.  Thou  tallest  my  wanderings  :  -put  thou  my  tears  into 
thy  bottle :  are  they  not  in  thy  book  ? 

Reference  is  usually  thought  to  be  made  here  to  the  lachrymatories  or 
tear-bottles  which  have  been  found  in  ancient  tombs,  and  which  are  sup 
posed  to  have  b<^en  used  for  the  purpose  of  receiving  the  tears  of  mourning 
relatives  and  friends  at  the  time  of  burial.  These  tear-bottles  are  made  of 
various  materials,  such  as  glass  and  earthenware,  and  are  of  different  shapes. 
The  most  of  them  are  broad  at  the  bottom,  with  long  slender  necks  and  fun 
nel-shaped  mouths.  Morier  says  that  in  Persia,  "  in  some  of  their  mournful 
assemblies,  it  is  the  custom  for  a  priest  to  go  aboiit  to  each  person,  ai  the 
height  of  his  grief,  with  a  piece  of  cotton  in  his  hand,  with  which  he  care 
fully  collects  the  falling  tears,  and  which  he  then  squeezes  into  a  bottle, 
preserving  them  with  the  greatest  caution."  "  Some  Persians  believe  that, 
in  the  agony  of  death,  when  all  medicines  have  failed,  a  drop  of  tears  so 
collected  put  into  the  mouth  of  a  dying  man  lias  been  known  to  revive  him; 
and  it  is  for  such  use  that  they  are  collected." — Second  Journey  through 
Persia,  p.  179. 

Some  commentators,  however,  deny  that  there  is  any  reference  in  this  test 
to  the  ancient  lachrymatories,  or  that  there  is  any  evidence  of  their  use 
among  the  Hebrews.  Such  affirm  that  the  allusion  here  is  to  the  custom  of 
putting  into  bags,  or  small  leathern  bottles,  articles  of  value  for  safe  keeping. 
See  note  on  Luke  xii,  33..  The  idea  would  then  be,  "Treasure  up  these  tears 
as  something  of  great  value." 


LVIII,  4,  5.  They  are  like  the  deaf  adder  that  stoppeth  her  ear  ; 
•which  will  not  hearken  to  the  voice  of  charmers,  charming 
never  so  wisely. 

Serpent  charming  has  from  remote  times  been  practiced  among  Oriental 
nations.  "While  there  is  doubtless  imposture  often  associated  with  the  exhi 
bitions  of  serpent  charmers,  yet  there  are  many  carefully  observing  travelers 
who  give  it  as  their  opinion,  from  their  own  observation,  that  there  are  men 
who,  in  some  way,  can  detect  the  presence  of  serpents  in  houses  and  old 
walls,  and  can  draw  them  out  and  keep  them  from  doing  mischief  by  the 
power  of  shrill  musical  notes.  Since  none  of  the  serpent  tribe  have  any  ex 
ternal  ear,  and  consequently  can  only  hear  very  sharp  sounds,  it  is  hardly 
necessary  to  explain  the  deafness  of  the  adder  as  willful,  occasioned,  as  "?ome 




old  travelers  have  gravely  asserted,   by  putting  one  ear  to  the  dust  and 

stopping  the  other  with  its  tail. 

Some  travelers  give  it  as  their  opinion  that  all   the  serpents  exhibited 

by  the  charmers  have 

previously  had   their 

fangs  extracted,  while 

others    assert      that 

some  of  the  serpents 

thus     sported     with 

have  afterward  given 

unmistakable  evi 
dence  of  still  possess 
ing  the  death- dealing 

power.     Forbes  gives 

a  curious  illustration 

of    this.      He    once 

painted  the  picture  of 

a     cobra    de     capello, 

which  a  Hindoo  snake 

charmer  kept  dancing 

on    the   table    for    a 

whole  hour,  while  the 

artist  was  at  his  work. 

During  this  time  he 
"  frequently  handled 

it  to  observe  the  beauty  of  the  spots,  and  especially  the  spectacles  on  the 
hood,  not  doubting  but  that  its  venomous  fangs  had  been  previously  ex 
tracted."  The  next  morning  his  servant  informed  him,  very  much  to  his 
astonishment,  that  "  while  purchasing  some  fruit  in  the  bazar  he  had 
observed  the  man  who  had  been  with  me  on  the  preceding  evening  enter- 
laining  the  country  people  with  his  dancing  snakes.  They,  according  to  their 
usual  custom,  sat  on  the  ground  around  him,  when,  either  from  the  music 
stopping  too  suddenlv,  or  from  some  other  cause  irritating  the  vicious  rep 
tile  which  I  had  so  often  handled,  it  darted  at  the  throat  of  a  young  woman, 
and  inflicted  a  wound  of  which  she  died  iu  about  half  an  hour." — Oriental 
Memoirs,  vol.  i,  p.  44. 

Besides  the  text,  reference  is  made  to  serpent  charming  in  several  other 
passages.  Solomon  refers  to  it  in  Eccl.  x,  1 1 :  "  Surely  the  serpent  will  bite 
without  enchantment;  and  a  babbler  is  no  better."  In  the  prophecy  of 
Jeremiah,  there  is  allusion  made  to  the  same  custom:  "For,  behold,  I 
will  send  serpents,  cockatrices,  among  you,  which  will  not  be  charmed,  and 
they  shall  bite  you,  saith  the  Lord."  Jer.  viii,  17. 



LVIII,  6.  Break  their  teeth,  O  God,  in  their  mouth  :  break  out 
the  great  teeth  of  the  young  lions,  O  Lord. 

This  is  thought  by  some  to  be  a  continuation  of  the  figure  in  the  preced 
ing  verse,  and  to  allude  to  the  custom  of  snake  charmers,  who,  it  is  said, 
often  break  out  the  teeth  of  the  serpents  they  wish  to  tame,  and  remove  the 
poisonous  gland;  though  this  is  not  always  done,  as  the  preceding  note 

This  interpretation,  however,  supposes  a  "  mixed  figure"  in  the  text:  a 
sudden  transition  from  the  serpent's  teeth  to  the  teeth  of  young  lions. 
Other  interpreters  therefore  suppose  that  the  reference  to  serpent  charm 
ing  closes  with  the  fifth  verse,  and  that  in  the  sixth  verse  an  allusion  is  mode 
to  an  ancient  custom  of  heathen  kings,  who  were  in  the  habit  of  knocking 
out  the  teeth  of  their  prisoners,  or  of  those  who  had  offended  them. 


LVIII,  9.  Before  your  pots  can  feel  the  thorns,  he  shal]  take 
them  away  as  with  a  whirlwind. 

There  is  a  great  variety  of  thorny  shrubs  and  plants  abounding  in  Pales 
tine.  These  the  people  gladly  gather  and  use  for  fuel.  They  make  a  quick, 
hot  fire,  which  kindles  easily  and  soon  expires.  The  idea  conveyed  in  the 
text  is  that  of  swift  destruction.  The  wicked  are  to  be  destroyed  quicker 
than  the  heat  from  a  fire  of  thorns  could  reach  the  cooking  vessels. 

A  similar  figure  is  used  in  the  prophecy  of  Isaiah :  "  And  the  people  shall 
be  as  the  burnings  of  lime:  as  thorns  cut  up  shall  they  be  burned  in  the 
fire."  Isa.  xxxiii,  12.  It  has  been  supposed  from  this  text  that  thorns  may 
have  been  used  in  lime-kilns. 

Allusion  to  the  use  of  thorns  for  fuel  is  also  made  in  2  Sam.  xxiii,  6,  7 ; 
Psa,  cxviii,  12;  Eccl.  vii,  6;  Isa,  ix,  18;  x,  17;  Nahum  i,  10, 

See  note  on  1  Kings  xvii,  10,  and  also  on  Matt,  vi,  30, 


LXIX,  22,  Let  their  table  become  a  snare  before  them :  and 
that  which  should  have  been  for  their  welfare,  let  it  become  a 

The  table  of  the  modern  Arabs  is  usually  nothing  but  a  piece  of  skin  or 
leather,  a  mat,  or  a  linen  cloth  spread  upon  the  ground.  The  ancient  He 
brews  are  supposed  to  have  used  a  table  of  this  sort,  and  this  is  thought  to 
be  referred  to  in  the  text.  A  table  thus  spread  on  the  ground  might  easily 
become  a  trnp  by  which  the  feet  of  the  unwary  would  be  entangled  so  that 
they  should  fall.  For  a  description  of  the  "  snare  "  and  "trap  "  referred  to 
here,  see  note  on  Psa,  xci,  3. 

Psalms.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  227 


LXXIX,  2.  The  dead  bodies  of  thy  servants  have  they  given 
to  be  meat  unto  the  fowls  of  the  heaven,  the  flesh  of  thy 
saints  unto  the  beasts  of  the  earth. 

1.  To  be  deprived  of  burial  was  considered  by  the  Jews  one  of  the  great 
est  dishonors  that  could  be  inflicted  on  a  human  being.     In  this  they  but 
shared  the  common  feeling  of  civilized  man.     "We  find  a  number  of  scrip 
tural  references  to  this  sentiment.     The  Psalmist,  lamenting  the  desolations 
he  beheld,  says,  "  Our  bones  are  scattered  at  the  grave's  mouth,  as  when  one 
cuttetli  and  cleaveth  wood  upon  the  earth."  Psa.  cxli,  7.     Solomon  speaks 
of  it  as  a  great  disgrace  that  a  man  "have  no  burial."  Eccl.  vi,  3.     The  Lord 
said  of  Jehoiakim,  "his  dead  body  shall  be  cast  out  in  the  day  to  the  heat, 
and  in  the  night  to  the  frost."  Jer.  xxxvi,  30.     In  the  text  the  bodies  are 
represented  not  only  as  uuburied,  but  as  further  dishonored  by  being  de 
voured  by  birds  and  beasts.     This  was  one  of  the  curses  pronounced  by 
Moses  for  disobedience  to  the  Divine  law.  Deut.  xxviii,  26.     It  was  a  threat 
mutually  exchanged  between  David  and  Goliath.  1  Sam.  xvii,  44-46.     The 
prophet  Jeremiah  has  several  references  to  this  dishonorable  treatment  of 
the  bodies  of  the  dead.     See  Jer.  vii,  33;  xvi,  4;  xix,  7;  xxxiv,  20. 

2.  In  connection  with  this  subject  it  ma.y  not  be  amiss  to  state  tlia-t,  on  the 
other  hand,  the  ancient  Magi  exposed  the  bodies  of  their  dead,  to  be  eaten 
by  birds,  as  a  matter  of  religious  principle ;  their  theory  being   that  any 
other  mode  of  disposing  of  a  corpse  would  pollute  at  least  one  of  the  four 
so-called  elements:  earth,  air,  fire,  and  water.     If  living  beings  should  de 
vour  the  dead,  this  pollution  would  be  prevented.     At  the  present  day  the 
Guebres,  or  Fire-worshipers,  the  descendants  of  the  ancient  Persians,  follow 
the   same  practice,  and  even   have    apparatus   prepared  for  the   purpose. 
"Bound  towers  of  considerable  height,  without  either  door  or  window,  are 
constructed  by  the  Guebres,  having  at  the  top  a  number  of  iron  bars,  which 
slope  inwards.     The  towers  are  mounted  by  meaps  of  ladders,  and  the  bodies 
are  placed  crossways  upon  the  bars.     The  vultures  and  crows  which  hover 
about  the  towers  soon  strip  the  flesh  from  the  bones,  and  these  latter  then 
fall  through  to  the  bottom.     The  Zendavesta  contains  particular  directions 
for  the  construction  of  such  towers,  which  are  called  dakhmas,  or  'towers 
of  silence.'"— RAWLINSON,  Five  Great  Monarchies,  vol.  ii,  p.  350,  noie  2. 

444.— THE  "PIT." 

LXXXYIII,  4.  I  am  counted  with  them  that  go  down  into  tha 

There  are  several  Hebrew  words  which  are  rendered  in  our  version  by  the 
word  "  pit."  The  ordinary  method  of  burial  being  in  a  grave  dug  in  theearth, 

228  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Psalms. 

or  hewn  out  of  the  rock,  the  phrase  "go  down  into  the  pit"  became  sy 
nonymous  with  death  and  the  grave.  Solomon  represents  those  who  are  try 
ing  to  entice  the  innocent  youth  into  ways  of  wickedness  as  saying,  "  Let  us 
swallow  them  up  alive  as  the  grave;  and  whole,  as  those  that  go  down  into 
the  pit."  Prov.  i,  12.  Hezekiah,  in  his  song  of  thanksgiving  for  the  recovery 
of  his  health,  says,  "For  the  grave  cannot  praise  thee,  death  cannot  celebrate 
thee;  they  that  go  down  into  the  pit  cannot  hope  for  thy  truth."  Isa. 
xxxv'iii,  18.  In  these  two  passages  the  parallel  members  of  the  sentence 
explain  each  other.  The  phrase  referred  to  is  of  frequent  occurrence  in  Scrip 
ture.  See,  for  example,  Job  xvii,  16;  xxxiii,  24;  Psa.  xxviii,  1;  xxx,  3; 
cxliii,  7;  Ezek.  xxvi,  20;  xxviii.  8;  xxxi,  14;  xxxii,  18. 


XCI,  3.  Surely  he  shall  deliver  thee  from  the  snare  of  the 

Several  different  words  are  used  in  the  Hebrew  to  denote  various  snares 
which  were  employed  in  fowling.  The  word  pack,  which  is  used  in  the  text, 
denoted  a  spring,  or  trap-net,  >;  in  two  parts,  which,  when  set,  were  spread  out 
upon  the  ground,  and  slightly  fastened  with  a  stick,  (trap-stick;)  sol  hat  as 
soon  as  a  bird  or  beast  touched  the  stick,  the  parts  flew  up  and  inclosed  the 
bird  in  the  net,  or  caught  the  foot  of  the  animal.  Job  xviii,  9."— ROBINSON'S 
Gesenius.  The  word  mokosU  is  also  used  to  denote  a  snare  of  the  same  sort; 


though  it  is  also  sometimes  used  to  signify  a  circle  of  nets  for  capturing 
beasts.     See  note  on  2  Sam.  xxii,  6. 

Snares  which  were  spread  on  the  ground  and  caught  the  bird  by  the  feet, 
or,  loosing  a  spring,  with  a  net,  are  often  referred  to  by  biblical 
writers  as  illustrative  of  the  dangers  which  beset  men.  See  Job  xviii,  8-10, 
where  several  varieties  seem  to  be  named.  The  same  is  true  of  Psa.  cxl.  5. 
See  also  Psa.  cxxiv,  7;  cxli,  9;  cxlii,  3;  Prov.  vii,  23;  xxii,  5;  Host  a  ix,  8; 
Amos  iii,  5. 

For  another  mode  of  cntching  birds,  see  note  on  Hosea  vii,  12. 

Psalms.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  229 

4/16.— GREEN  OIL. 

XCII.  10.    I   shall   be    anointed  with  fresh  oil. 

Literally,  green  oil  Some  interpret  this  to  mean  oil  newly  made;  others 
an  oil  made  from  green  or  unripe  olives,  like  the  beaten  oil  of  the  sanctuary. 
See  note  on  Exod.  xxvii,  20.  Roberts  suggests  that  it  means  "  cold  drawn 
oil,"  or  that  which  is  pressed  from  the  nut  without. the  process  of  boiling. 
He  says :  "  The  Orientals  prefer  this  kind  to  all  others  for  anointing  them 
selves  ;  it  is  considered  the  most  precious,  the  most  pure  and  efficacious. 
Nearly  all  their  medicinal  oils  are  thus  extracted,  and  because  they  cannot 
gain  so  much  by  ilris  method  as  by  the  boiling  process  oils  so  drawn  are 
very  dear.  Hence  their  name  for  the  article  thus  prepared  is  also  patchc, 
that  is,  'green  oil.'  "—Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  339. 

447.— TRUMPETS. 

XCVIIT,  6.  With  trumpets  and.  sound  of  cornet  make  a  joy 
ful  noise  before  the  Lord,  the  King. 

1.  Chatsotserah,  "  trumpet,"  was  a  long,  straight,  and  slender  wind  instru 
ment,  such  as  Moses  was  commanded  to  furnish  for  the  service  of  the  Israel 
ites.    Num.  x,  2.     Josephus  gives  this  description  of  it:  "In  length  it  was 
little  less  than  a  cubit.      It  was  composed  of  a  narrow  tube,    somewhat 
t  dcker  than   a  flute,   but  with   so  much   breadth    as    was    sufficient  for 
admission  of  the  breath,  of  a  man's  mouth ;    it    ended    in  the   form   of    a 
bell,  like  common  trumpets."— Antiquities,  boo't  iii,  chap.  12,  §  6. 

1  he  chatsotserah  was  used  for  notifying  the  people  of  the  different  feasts, 
fur  signaling  the  change  of  camp,  and  for  sounding  alarms  in  time  of  war. 
See  Num.  x,  1-10  ;  ELosea  v,  8.  It  was  at  first  used  in  sacrificial  rites  only 
on  special  occasions,  but  in  the  time  of  David  and  Solomon  its  use  for  such 
purposes  was  very  much  extended. 

2.  It  is  impossible  to  give  an  accurate  description  of  the  shophar,  here  and 
hi  other  passages  rendered  "  cornet"  but  often  translated  "trumpet/'     Our 
translators  render  it  "  trumpet,"  except  when,  as  in  the  text,  they  are  com 
pelled  to  make  a  distinct  on  between  it  and  chatsotseraJi,  which  they  invari 
ably  render  "trumpet."     See  1  Chron.  xv,  28;  2  Chron.  xv,  14;  Hosea  v,  8. 
It  is  translated  "trumpet"  in  Exod.  xix,  16;  Lev.  xxv,   9;  Job  xxxix,  25; 
Joel  ii,  1 ;  Amos  ii,  2. 

Authorities  differ  as  to  its  shape,  some  supposing  it  to  have  been  straight, 
while  others  contend  that  it  was  more  or  less  bent  like  a  horn.  The  latter 
opinion  would  seem  the  more  probable  from  the  fact  that  the  "horn,"  (keren,) 
.  in  Josh,  vi,  5,  is  elsewhere  throughout  that  chapter  spoken  of  as  a  shophar, 
or  "trumpet."  From  its  name,  Which  means  "bright,"  or  "clear,"  the 
shopJiar  is  thought  to  have  had  a  clear,  shrill  sound.  It  was  used  for  an- 
nourfcing  the  beginning  of  the  year  of  jubilee,  ami  fur  other  ceromonfol  pur- 




poses;  for  calling  the  attention  of  the  people  to  important  proclamations; 
for  declaration  of  war:  and  for  demonstrations  of  joy.  See  Lev.  xxv,  9; 
Judges  iii,  27;  1  Sam.  xiii,  3;  2  Chron.  xv,  24;  Tsa.  xviii,  3. 


CVI,  19,  20.  They  made  a  calf  in  Horeb,  and  worshiped  the 
molten  image.  Thus  they  changed  their  glory  into  the  simil 
itude  of  an  ox  that  eateth  grass. 

There  is  thought  to  be  an  allusion  here  to  a  custom  which  was  practiced 
in  Egypt  in  connection  with  the  worship  of  the  sacred  calf,  Apis.  Godwyn 
says:  "  The  party  that  repaired  unto  him  tendered  a  bottle  of  hay  or  grass; 
which,  if  he  received,  then  it  betokened  a  good  and  happy  event;  if,  other 
wise,  he  refused  it,  then  it  did  portend  some  evil  to  come." — Moses  and 
Aaron,  book  iv,  chapter  5. 


CVI,  28.  They  joined  themselves  also  unto  Baal-peor,  and  ate 
the  sacrifices  of  the  dead. 

Allusion  is  supposed  to  bo  made  here  to  those  sacrifices  which  were 
anciently  offered  by  various  nations  to,  or  in  honor  of,  the  dead.  Egyptian 
funeral  t;iblets  have  representations  of  tome  of  these  feasts.  The  friends  met 
together  to  eat  the  sacrifice  or 
peace-offering,  which  consist 
ed  of  various  articles — meat, 
bread,  vegetnbles,  and  liquids. 
What  was  left  by  the  mourn- 
t  rs  was  eaten  by  the  wild  ani 
mals  ;  hence,  in  the  hieroglyph- 
ical  inscriptions  the  jackal  is 
styled  "  the  devourer  of  what 
is  set  out  for  the  dead."  The 
ancient  Greeks  had  a  similar 
custom.  They  met,  after  the 
funeral,  at  the  house  of  the 
bereaved,  and  partook  of  an 
entertainment  composed  of  a 
variety  of  animal  and  vegeta 
ble  substances.  The  broken  morsels  which  fell  from  the  table  were  looked 
on  as  sacred  to  the  departed  souls,  and  could  not  be  lawfully  eaten.  "  These 
fragments  were  carried  to  the  tomb,  and  there  left  for  the  ghost  to  feast  upon  ; 
whence,  to  denote  extreme  poverty,  it  was  usual  to  say  that  a  person  stole 
his  meat  from  the  graves" — POTTER'S  Antiquities  of  Greece,  vol.  ii,  p.  230. 


Psalms.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  231 

CXIX,  83.     I   am    become  like   a  bottle  in  the  smoke. 

Bottles  made  of  skin  (see  note  on  Matt,  ix,  17)  are  often  hung  up  in 
Oriental  tents.  Here  the  smoke  from  the  tent  fire  can  freely  act  upon 
them,  since  there  is  no  chimney  to  carry  it  away.  Skins  of  wine  were  some 
times  hung  in  the  smoke  to  give  the  wiiTe  a  peculiar  flavor.  When  skin 
bottles  are  long  exposed  to  smoke,  they  become  hard,  shriveled,  and  uu« 
sightly.  This  is  the  foundation  of  the  striking  figure  of  the  text. 


CXXIII,  2.  Behold,  as  the  eyes  of  servants  look  unto  the  hand 
of  their  masters,  and  as  the  eyes  of  a  maiden  unto  the  hand 
of  her  mistress,  so  our  eyes  wait  upon  the  Lord  our  God, 
until  that  he  have  mercy  upon  us. 

Servants  in  the  East  are  not  always  spoken  to  when  orders  are  given  by 
the  master  or  mistress.  The  wishes  of  the  latter  are  made  known  by  signs; 
hence  it  becomes  necessary  for  the  servants  to  watch  the  hand  of  the  master 
to  ascertain  when  they  are  wanted  and  what  is  required  of  them.  The 
clapping  of  the  hands  may  bring  them  when  in  an  adjacent  room,  and  a 
silent  motion  of  the  hand  may  express  the  master's  wish.  Servants  are 
trained  to  watch  for  these  signs  and  to  obey  them.  This  custom  is  doubt 
less  the  one  alluded  to  in  the  text;  and  yet  there  is  force  in  the  suggestion 
of  Harmer,  that,  in  its  special  application  here,  the  latter  part  of  the  verse 
must  not  be  forgotten.  He  paraphrases  the  passage  thus:  "As  a  slave, 
ordered  by  a  master  or  mistress  to  be  chastised  for  a  fault,  turns  his  or  her 
imploring  eyes  to  that  superior,  till  that  motion  of  the  hand  appears  which 
puts  an  end  to  the  bitterness  that  is  felt,  so  our  eyes  are  put  up  to  thee, 
our  God,  till  thy  hand  shall  give  the  signal  for  putting  an  end  to  our 
sorrows." — Observations,  vol.  ii,  p.  430. 


CXXIX,  6.  Let  them  be  as  the  grass  upon  the  housetops, 
which  withereth  afore  it  groweth  up. 

From  the  peculiar  structure  of  the  roofs  of  Eastern  houses  it  can  .easily  be 
seen  how. grass  m'ght  there  spring  up  and  yet  not  have  a  flourishing  growth. 
Dr.  Robinson,  speaking  of  the  houses  near  Lebanon,  says :  "  The  flat  roofs  of 
the  houses  in  this  region  are  constructed  by  laying,  first,  large  beams  at  in 
tervals  of  several  feet;  then,  rude  joists ;  on  which,  again,  are  arranged  small 
poles  close  together,  or  brush- wood;  and  upon  this  is  spread  earth  or  gravel 
rolled  hard.  This  filing  isorten  repeated,  especially  after  ram,  f«  these 

232  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Psalms. 

roofs  are  apt  to  leak.  For  this  purpose  a  roller  of  stone  is  kept  ready  for 
use  on  the  roof  of  every  house.  Gras.s  is  often  seen  growing  on  these  roofs." 
— Biblical  Researches,  vol.  iii,  p.  39. 

The  earth  on  the  roof  affords  a  starting  place  for  the  grass,  but  the  fre 
quent  use  of  the  roller  and  the  trampling  of  feet  give  it  but  a  poor  chance  for 
life.  "It  withereth  afore  it  groweth  up."  The  same  figure  is  also  used  in 
2  Kings  xix,  26,  and  in  Isa.  xxxvii,  27. 

Travelers  who  have  visited  Pe*rsia  tell  us  of  houses  the  roofs  of  which  are 
'covered  with  green  sod,  from  which  the  grass  grows  luxuriantly.  Hay  is 
said  to  be  gathered  from  these  roofs,  and  lambs  are  turned  out  on  them  to 
pasture.  The  same  is  reported  of  northern  Gothic  countries.  The  psalmist 
however,  could  not,  as  some  think,  have  had  such  roofs  in  mind,  even  admit 
ting  that  he  ever  saw  them,  since  the  application  of  the  illustration  pre-sup- 
poses  grass,  not  of  luxuriant  growth,  but  short-lived. 


CXLI,  5.  Let  the  righteous  smite  me;  it  shall  be  a  kindness: 
and.  let  him  reprove  me  ;  it  shall  be  an  excellent  oil,  which 
shall  not  break  my  head. 

Oil  is  used  in  the  East  not  only  for  anointing,  but  also  for  medicinal  pur 
poses.  There  are  some  complaints  in  the  head  which  are  supposed  to  be 
specially  relieved  by  the  use  of  certain  oils.  Other  kinds  of  oil,  however,  are 
said  to  produce  delirium.  The  "  excellent  oil "  in  the  text  was  the  kind  that 
cured.  Roberts  adds  to  this  statement  of  the  medicinal  use  of  oils  on  the 
head  the  fact  that  in  Judea  "the  crown  of  the  head  is  the  place  selected  for 
chastisement.  Thus,  owners  of  slaves,  or  husbands,  or  schoolmasters,  beat 
the  heads  of  the  offenders  with  their  knuckles."  The  Hindus  have  figura 
tive  forms  of  speech  very  similar  to  the  text :  "  Let  a  holy  man  smite  my 
head !  and  what  of  that  ?  it  is  an  excellent  oil."  "  My  master  has  been  beat 
ing  my  head,  but  it  has  been  good  oil  for  me." 


CXLIV,  12.  That  our  daughters  may  be  as  corner-stones,  pol 
ished  after  the  similitude  of  a  palaee. 

It  is  thought  by  some  that  reference  is  made  here  to  the  Caryatides  or 
columns  representing  female  figures.  These  were  common  in  Egyptian 
architecture,  and  their  appearance  was  doubtless  familar  to  the  Hebrews. 
The  psalmist  wishes  the  fair  daughters  of  the  land  to  be  like  "  corner  columns 
finely  sculptured,"  thus  combining  strength  with  beanty.  He  desires  that 
they  may  be  noted,  not  merely  for  loveliness,  but  for  usefulness,  holding  up 
the  social  fabric,  as  pillars  su-stain  a  temple. 

Psalms.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.    .  233 

455.— ORGANS. 

CL,  4.  Praise  him  with  the  timbrel  and  dance  ;  praise  him 
with  stringed  instruments  and  organs. 

The  ugab  was  one  of  the  most  ancient  instruments,  its  invention  being 
ascribed  to  Jubal.  Gen.  iv,  21.  From  Job  xxi,  12,  and  xxx,  31,  it  appears  to 
have  beeu  used  on  festive  occasions.  In  the  text  it  is  spoken  of  as  appro 
priate  for  use  in  the  worship  of  God. 

Various  opinions  have  been  expressed  in  reference  to  the  character  of  this 
instrument.  Winer,  (Bib.  Realw.,}  and  Leyrer,  (in  Herzog's  Real-EncyUo- 
pddie,)  following  some  very  old  authorities,  suppose  the  ugab  to  have  resem 
bled  the  bagpipe.  They  represent  it  as  consisting  of  two  pipes  fastened  in 
a  leathern  bag,  one  above  and  the  other  below.  Through  the  upper  pipe, 
which  had  a  mouth-piece,  the  bag  was  rilled  with  air,  while  the  lower  pipe 
had  holes  which  were  played  on  with  the  ringers  like  a  flute,  the  bag  mean 
while  rising  and  falling  like  a  bellows,  by  means  of  pressure. 

Most  authorities,  however,  identify  the  ugab  with  the  syrinx  or  "  Pandean 
pipes,"  which  is  undoubtedly  a  very  ancient  instrument,  and  is  generally  con 
ceded  to  be  the  germ  of  the  modern  organ.  Kitto  says  that  the  syrinx  was 
the  instrument  which  was  meant  by  our  translators  when  they  used  the 
word  "organ;  "  thus  relieving  them  from  the  charge  of  obscurity,  that  word 
having  changed  its  meaning  since  their  day. 

The  syrinx  was  used  by  the  Arcadian  and  other  Grecian  shepherds,  and 
was  supposed  by  them  to  have  been  invented  by  Pan,  their  tutelary  god,  who 
was  sometimes  heard  playing  on  it,  as  they  imagined,  on  Mount  Maenalus. 
It  was  made  of  cane,  reed,  or  hemlock.  "In  general,  seven  hollow  stems  of 
these  plants  were  fitted  together  by  means  of  wax,  having  been  previously 
cut  to  the  proper  length,  and  adjusted  so  as  to  form  an  octave;  but  some 
times  nine  were  admitted,  giving  an  equal  number  of  notes.  Another  refine 
ment  in  the  construction  of  this  instrument,  which,  however,  was  rarely 
practiced,  was  to  arrange  the  pipes  in  a  curve  so  as  to  fit  the  form  of  the  lip, 
instead  of  arranging  them  in  a  plane." — SMITH,  Diet.  Greek  and  Roman  Ant. 

This  instrument  is  still  used  in  some  parts  of  the  East.  The  reeds  are  of 
unequal  length,  but  of  equal  thickLess,  and  vary  in  number  from  five  to 
twenty-three.  Specimens  may  be  occasionally  seen  in  European  and  Amer 
ican  cities  in  the  possession  of  itinerant  street  musicians. 


CL,  5.  Praise  him  upon  the  loud  cymbals;  praise  him.  upon 
the  high-sounding  cymbals. 

The  ancient  cymbals  resembled  those  in.  use  in  our  day,  consisting  of  two 
circular  concave  plates  of  brass,  or  other  metal,  and  producing  a  clanging 
sound  by  being  struck  against  each  other. 

15  4 




Two  kinds  are  supposed  to  be  mentioned  in  the  text.     The  "loud  C37m- 
bals"  are  thought  to  have  corresponded  to  the  castanets  which  are  used 

by  the  Moors  and  Spaniards  as 
an  accompaniment  to  guitars  and 
dances.  Two  of  these  small  cym 
bals  were  held  in  each  hand. 
The  "high-sounding  cymbals"  are 
thought  to  have  been  the  larger 
kind  that  we  are  accustomed  to  see 
in  military  bands.  They  were  thus 
used  in  ancient  times,  and  were 
also  employed  by  the  Hebrews  in 
Divine  worship  as  an  accompani 
ment  to  the  chorus  of  singers. 
1  Chron.  xv,  16;  xxv,  6;  2  Chron. 
v,  13.  Paul  refers  to  this  instru 
ment  in  1  Cor.  xiii,  1 :  "  Though  I 
speak  with  the  tongues  of  men  and 
angels,  and  have  not  charity,  I  am 
become  as  sounding  brass,  or  a 
89.— EUNUCH  PLATING  ON  THE  CYMBALS,  tinkling  cymbal." 



Ill,  8.    It  shall  be  health  to  thy  navel,  and  marrow  to  thy  bones. 

Sir  John  Chardin  supposes  that  allusion  is  here  made  to  the  custom,  so 
prevalent  in  the  East,  of  making  external  applications  of  oils,  ointments, 
plasters,  and  frictions,  especially  on  the  stomach  and  abdomen.  In  addition 
to  this  the  passage  may  obtain  further  illustration  from  a  fact  mentioned  by 
Roberts.  He  says  that  in  India  "the  navel  is  often  spoken  of  as  a  criterion 
of  prosperity;"  and  he  gives  several  proverbial  expressions  which  are  fre 
quently  used  to  denote  good  fortune,  in  which  a  figure  is  brought  out  similar 
to  that  in  the  text. 

VI,  13.    He  speaketh  -with  his  feet,  he  teaeheth  -with  his  fingers. 

Feet  and  fingers  are  frequently  used  in  the  East  as  a  means  of  commu 
nicating  ideas,  especially  when  in  the  presence  of  those  from  whom  it  is 

Proverbs.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  235 

intended  to  conceal  the  information  imparted,  and  who  might  hear  if  words 
were  uttered.  Certain  movements  of  hands  and  feet  are  understood  to  have 
a  definite  meaning,  so  that  merchants  have  been  known  to  bargain  in  the 
presence  of  others  by  sitting  on  the  ground  with  a  piece  of  cloth  thrown 
over  the  lap,  under  which  they  arrange  their  terms  by  the  movements  of  their 
fingers.  In  a  similar  way  the  Brahmins  convey  religious  mysteries  to  their 
disciples,  their  hands  being  concealed  in  the  folds  of  their  robes.  Thus  they 
teach  "with  their  fingers."  See  also  John  xiii,  24. 

Debauchees  and  dancing  girls  are  in  the  habit  of  making  gestures  and 
movements  with  their  feet.  Some  suppose  Solomon  to  refer  to  these  when 
he  speaks  of  the  "naughty  person"  as  he  does  in  the  text.  The  practice 
was  known  among  the  ancient  Romans  and  is  described  by  classic 


VII,  16.  I  have  decked  my  bed  with  coverings  of  tapestry 
•with  carved  works,  with  fine  linen  of  Egypt. 

Eres,  "  bed,"  is  supposed  by  some  writers  to  signify  bedstead,  and  they 
think  the  text  refers  to  a  custom  of  hanging  over  the  bedstead  a  canopy  of 
richly  woven  stuff  covering  a  frame.  Others  suppose  the  text  to  refer  to 
the  rich  bed  clothing  which  is  found  in  the  houses  of  wealthy  Orientals. 
We  are  told  by  travelers  of  coverlets  of  green  and  crimson  satin  ornamented 
with  gold  embroidery,  and  presenting  an  appearance  of  great  splendor ;  in 
fact,  being  more  ornamental  than  useful,  especially  when  it  is  considered  that 
the  large  cushions  wirch  are  used  as  pillows  sometimes  have  embroidery 
upon  them  so  thick  as  seriously  to  interfere  with  comfort  when  the  head 
rests  on  it.  "Coverings  of  tapestry  "  are  also  mentioned  in  Prov.  xxxi,  22. 

460.— MIXED  WINE. 

IX,  2.  She  hath  killed  her  beasts,  she  hath  mingled  her  wine 
she  hath  also  furnished  her  table. 

Harmer  supposes  that  by  "  mixed  wine  "  is  meant  old  wine  that  is  drawn 
from  jars  where  it  becomes  turbid  and  strong  by  being  rivngled  with  the  lees. 
"  Mixed  wine  "  would  then  mean  old  or  strong  wine,  and  the  announcement  in 
ie  text  that  Wisdom  "hath  mingled  her  wine,"  means  that  she  has  opened 
the  wine  for  use,  the  feast  being  ready.  Bishop  Lowth  also  supposes  mixed 
wine  to  be  strong  wine,  but  made- so,  not  in  the  way  suggested  by  Harmer, 
but  by  the  admixture  of  foreign  substances;  affirming  that,  "whereas 
the  Greeks  and  Latins  by  mixed  wine  always  understood  wine  diluted  and 
lowered  with  water,  the  Hebrews,  on  the  contrary,  generally  mean  by  it 
wine  made  stronger  and  more  inebriating  by  the  addition  of  higher  and 
more  powerful  ingredients,  such  as  honey,  spices,  defrutum,  (or  wine  inspis- 

236  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Proverbs. 

sated  by  boiling  it  down  to  two  thirds  or  one  half  of  the  quantity,)  myrrh, 
mandragora,  opiates,  and  other  strong  drugs."—  Commentary  on  Isaiah 
5  22 

'  Kitto,  on  the  other  hand,  gives  it  as  his  opinion  that  in  most,  if  not  all, 
cases  where  mixed  wine  is  spoken  of,  wine  mingled  with  water  is  meant; 
and  he  quotes  Isaiah  i,  22,  as  an  illustration  :  "  Thy  silver  is  become  dross, 
thy  wine  mixed  with  water."  But  he  forgets  that  the  prophet  is  there 
speaking,  not  of  wine  a?  ordinarily  drank  at  feasts,  but  of  wine  that  is 
deteriorated  in  quality.  Gesenius  expresses  it,  "adulterated,  spoiled  by 
mixing  water  with  it."  God's  people  had  become  debased,  they  were  li 
wine  mixed  with  water.  The  other  passages  which  speak  of  mixed  wine 
most  certainly  seem  to  refer  to  a  liquor  that  is  strengthened,  rather  than 
weakened,  by  that  with  which  it  is  mixed.  See  Psa.  Ixxv,  8  ;  Prov.  xxiu,  30 ; 
Sol.  Song  viii,  2;  Isa.  v,  22. 


XI,  21.  Though  hand  join  in  hand,  the  wicked  shall  not  be 

Literally,  "  hand  to  hand."  Striking  hands,  or  touching  hands,  is  an  Orien 
tal  mode  of  sealing  a  bargain,  and  is  sometimes  practiced  even  in  this  country. 
"Give  us  your  hand  on  that"  is  a  colloquial  expression  occasionally  heard 
among  an  inferior  class  of  traders.  In  the  East  the  parties  making  a  con 
tract  touch  each  other's  right  hands,  and  then  each  raises  his  hand  to  his 
lips  or  forehead.  Sometimes  the  hands  are  simply  joined.  The  text,  then, 
is  expressive  of  a  covenant.  See  also  Ezra  x,  19 ;  Ezek.  xvii,  18.  A  more 
solemn  form  of  expressing  faithfulness,  amounting,  indeed,  to  an  oath,  is  seen 
in  the  uplifted  hand.  See  note  on  Gen.  xiv,  22,  and  also  on  Ezek.  xxi,  14. 

Joining  hands  was  frequently  practiced  as  a  mode  of  pledging  security, 
and  is  thus  referred  to  in  Job  xvii,  3  ;  Prov.  vi,  1 ;  xvii,  18 ;  xxii,  26. 

For  remarks  on  "giving  the  hand"  as  a  pledge  of  submission,  see  note  on 

Jer.  1,  15. 


XVII,  19.    He  that  exalteth    his   gate   seeketh   destruction. 

In  the  open  country  where  the  houses  are  exposed  to  the  depredations  of 
wanderino-  Arabs  the  gates  are  made  very  low,  so  as  to  prevent  the  maraud 
ers  from  riding  through  the  porch  into  the  court.  A  high  gate  would  be  an 
invitation  to  enter.  Even  in  cities  the  gates  of  houses  are  often  made  low 
and  unattractive  in  appearance,  affording  no  indication  of  the  wealth  which 
may  be  within,  lest  the  cupidity  of  wicked  rulers  should  be  attracted. 
Travelers  speak  of  house-gates  as  low  as  three  feet  from  the  ground.^  In 
Persia  a  lofty  gate  is  one  of  the  signs  of  royalty,  which  some  of  the  subjects, 
iu  their  vanity,  imitate  as  far  as  they  dare. 

Proverbs.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  237 

Anderson  says  :  "  The  house  in  which  I  dwelt  in  Jerusalem  had  an  arch, 
or  gate- way,  a  few  yards  from  the  door,  which  was  so  low  that  a  person 
on  horseback  could  not  pass  under  it.  It  was  evidently  built  for  the  sake 
of  security." — Bible  Light  from  Bible  Lands,  p.  329. 

The  meaning  of  tlie  text  undoubtedly  is,  He  who  has  a  high  gate  to  his 
house  invites  the  robber  by  a  show  of  prosperity  and  by  affording  facility  of 
entrance.  He  thus  "  seeketh  destruction." 

463.— THE  LOT. 

XVIII,  18.  The  lot  eauseth  contentions  to  cease,  and  parteth 
between  the  mighty.  See  also  chap,  xvi,  33. 

The  use  of  the  lot,  as  a  mode  of  settling  disputed  questions,  is  very  an 
cient,  and  was  practiced  by  most  ancient  nations.  It  was  resorted  to  in 
reference  to  almost  all  the  varied  affairs  of  life.  Magistrates  and  priests 
were  appointed  by  it,  and  the  land  of  conquered  enemies  was  distributed 
by  its  means. 

Among  the  Hebrews  we  find  its  use  sanctioned  by  Divine  authority. 
Thus  the  scape  goat  was  selected  by  lot.  Lev.  xvi,  8.  The  inheritances  of 
the  tribes  in  the  Land  of  Promise  were  determined  in  the  same  way.  Num. 
xxxiv,  13;  Josh,  xiv,  2.  The  lot  was  used  on  various  occasions  subse 
quently.  We  cite  a  few  instances.  The  men  who  attacked  Gibeah  were 
selected  by  lot.  Judges  xx,  9.  In  this  manner  Jonathan  was  detected  as 
the  violator  of  Saul's  command  concerning  fasting,  in  his  fight  with  the 
Philistines.  1  Sam.  xiv,  41,  42.  In  this  way  the  positions  of  the  porters  in 
the  temple  were  decided.  1  Chron.  xxvi,  13.  When  the  storm  arose  on 
board  the  ship  where  Jonah  was.  the  heathen  sailors  cast  lots  to  determine 
who  had  brought  them  into  trouble.  Jonah  i,  7. 

In  the  New  Testament  we  have  allusions  to  the  same  practice.  The 
Roman  soldiers  divided  the  garments  of  the  Saviour  by  lot.  Matt,  xxvii,  35; 
Mark  xv,  24.  In  this  manner  Matthias  was  chosen  to  fill  the  place  of  Judas. 
Acts  i,  26. 

We  have  no  information  given  in  Scripture  concerning  the  mode  by  which 
lots  were  cast.  Among  the  Latins,  especially  where  several  parties  were 
concerned,  "  little  counters  of  wood,  or  of  some  other  light  material,  were 
put  into  ajar  (called  sitella)  with  so  narrow  a  neck  that  only  one  could  come 
out  at  a  time.  After  the  jar  had  been  filled  with  water  and  the  contents 
shaken,  the  lots  were  determined  by  the  order  in  which  the  bits  of  wood,  rep. 
resenting  the  several  parties,  came  out  with  the  water.  In  other  cases 
they  were  put  into  a  wide,  open  jar  and  the  counters  were  drawn  out  by  the 
hand.  Sometimes,  again,  they  were  cast  in  the  manner  of  dice." — FAIRJUIRN, 
Imperial  Bible  Dictionary,  s.  v.,  Lot. 






Roberts  describes  the  mode  by  which  property  is  divided  by  lot  in  India, 
follows :  "  They  draw  on  the  ground  tne  cardinal  points,  thus :  They  then 
write  the  names  of  the  parties  on  separate 
leaves  and  mix  them  all  together.  A  little 
child  is  then  called,  and  told  to  take  one  leaf 
and  place  it  on  any  point  of  the  compass  he 
pleases;  this  being  done,  the  leaf  is  opened, 
and  to  the  person  whose  name  is  found  therein 
will  be  given  the  field  or  garden  which  is  in 
that  direction." — Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  231. 

He  further  states  that  the  Hindus  settle 
every  disputed  question  by  lot.  They  decide 
what  physician  they  shall  have,  and  what  rem 
edies,  and  even  leave  the  selection  of  a  wife  to 
the  same  blind  chance. 



XXI,  9.  It  is  better  to  dwell  in  a  corner  of  the  house-top  than 
•with  a  brawling  woman  in  a  wide  house.  See  also  chap,  xxv,  24. 

It  is  customary  to  build  on  the  flat  roofs  of  Eastern  houses  arbors,  or 
booths,  (called  "tabernacles"  in  Matt,  xvii,  4,)  for  the  purpose  of  resting 
from  the  heat  of  the  day  during  the  summer.  They  are  also  occupied  as 
sleeping-chambers  at  night.  Some  suppose  that  Saul  slept  in  a  place  of  this 
sort,  though  he  may  have  slept  on  the  open  roof.  See  1  Sam.  ix,  25,  26. 
These  temporary  structures  serve  an  excellent  purpose  at  the  season  of  the 
year  for  which  they  are  specially  designed,  but  as  a  place  in  which  to 
"dwell"  permanently  they  are,  of  course,  very  undesirable.  The  rain  and 
cold  would  soon  drive  the  inhabitants  from  them.  Yet  in  the  estimation  of 
the  wise  man,  a  cheerless  spot  like  this  is  preferable  as  a  place  of  residence 
to  a  large  house  with  plenty  of  room  and  all  conveniences,  provided  "a 
brawling  woman"  is  in  it! 


XXV,  11.  A  word  fitly  spoken  is  like  apples  of  gold  in  pictures 
of  silver. 

Maskiyoth,  "pictures,"  is  supposed  by  some  to  convey  the  idea  of  carved 
work,  rather  than  that  of  painted  work,  and  hence  they  would  refer  it  in  this 
place  to  something  that  is  made  by  the  skill  of  the  carver  or  the  engraver, 
such  as  a  salver  of  silver  with  chased  work  upon  it,  and  having  fruit  of  gold. 
Others  think  that  silver  baskets  of  filigree  work  are  meant,  the  fruit  con- 
tained  in  them  being  real  and  of  a  golden  color,  or  else  artificial,  and  made 

Proverbs.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  239 

of  gold.  Either  of  these  interpretations  would  be  consistent  with  Eastern 
customs.  Roberts  suggests  that,  inasmuch  as  in  verses  6  and  7  mention  is 
made  of  the  manner  in  which  one  should  approach  a  king,  Solomon  in  this 
verse  had  before  his  mind  the  presents  which  are  sometimes  made  to  Orien 
tal  monarchs — golden  ornaments  in  the  shape  of  fruit,  placed  on  highly  pol 
ished  silver  salvers. 


XXV,  13.    As   the   cold   of  snow  in   the   time   of  harvest,  so  is  a 
faithful  messenger  to  them  that  send  him:  for  he  refresheth  the 
soul  of  his  masters. 

It  is  evident  that  this  cannot  refer  to  the  coming  of  winter  weather  in 
summer,  since  the  application  of  the  figure  supposes  something  desirable, 
which  certainly  could  not  be  said  of  a  fall  of  snow  in  harvest  time.  The 
custom,  so  common  in  the  East  to-day,  of  cooling  wines  with  snow  or  ice, 
was  doubtless  practiced  in  the  time  of  Solomon.  Mount  Lebanon  supplies  a 
large  country  in  its  neighborhood  from  the  inexhaustible  stores  of  snow  upon 
its  top.  The  snow  is  mixed  with  the  wine,  thus  making  the  latter  more 
palatable;  so  a  faithful  messenger  is  a  source  of  refreshment  to  "the  soul 
of  his  masters." 

467.— HINGES. 

XXVI,  14.     As  the   door  turneth   upon   his   hinges,   so    doth   the 
slothful  upon   his   bed. 

The  hinges  of  Eastern  houses  are  not  like  ours,  but  consist  of  pivots  in 
serted  into  sockets  both  above  and  below.  In  the  Hauran  there  are  still 
standing  stone  houses  with  stone  slabs  for  doors,  having  pivots  cut  out 
of  the  same  and  turning  in  sockets  prepared  for  them  in  the  wall  of  the 


XXVI,  25.  When  he  speaketh  fair,  believe  him  not :  for  there 
are  seven  abominations  in  his  heart. 

The  number  seven  is  used  frequently  in  Scripture,  and  expresses  the  idea 
of  completeness  or  fullness.  Thus  the  text  represents  the  hypocrite  as  hav 
ing  a  heart  filled  with  abominations.  This  figurative  use  of  the  number 
seven  obtains  in  some  parts  of  the  East  at  the  present  day.  It  is  frequently 
employed  to  signify  an  indefinite  number,  but  always  a  large  number,  and 
hence  conveys  the  idea  of  sufficiency.  The  Scripture  passages  where  the 
word  "  seven  "  is  used  are  too  numerous  to  be  quoted  here.  They  are  scat 
tered  all  through  the  Bible,  especially  in  the  prophetical  books ;  the  book  of 
Revelation  making  most  frequent  symbolical  use  of  the  word. 





The  interesting  question,  Why  the  number  seven  should  be  regarded  a 
perfect  number?  is  one  the  discussion  of  which  does  not  fall  within  the 
scope  assigned  to  this  work.  Those  who  desire  information  on  this  subject, 
and  also  on  the  general  question  of  the  sacred  numbers  used  in  the  Bible, 
may  consult,  in  addition  to  the  various  Bible  Dictionaries  and  Encyclopedias, 
Stuart  on  the  Apocalypse,  in  his  Introduction,  §  7,  "Numerosity  of  the  Apoca 
lypse,"  vol.  i,  p.  130;  and  in  Excursus  II,  "On  the  Symbolical  Use  of  Num 
bers  in  the  Apocalypse,"  vol.  ii,  p.  409.  Dr.  Whedon  also  lias  a  very  valua 
ble  and  characteristic  note  on  the  same  subject  in  his  Commentary  on  the 
Gospels,  vol.  ii,  p.  77. 

469.— LEAKY  ROOFS. 

XXVII,  15,  A  continual  dropping  in  a  very  rainy  clay  and  a 
contentious  woman  are  alike.  See  also  chap*,  xix,  13. 

Reference  is  undoubtedly  made  here  to  the  frequent  leaks  to  which  the 
flat  roofs  of  Eastern  houses  are  subject.  Having  merely  a  covering  of  earth, 
rolled  smooth  and  hard,  (see  note  on  Psa.  cxxix,  6.)  a  heavy  rain  will  soon 
succeed  in  finding  its  way  through,  when  the  drops  will  fall  into  the  room 
below,  thus  making  it  uncomfortable,  if  not  actually  uninhabitable.  Trav 
elers  are  frequently  disturbed  in  this  manner  during  violent  storms,  some 
times  being  obliged  to  change  their  quarters  in  the  middle  of  the  night. 


XXVII,  22.  Though  thou.  shouldest  bray  a  fool  in  a  mortar 
among  wheat  with  a  pestle,  yet  will  not  his  foolishness  depart 
from  h  i  m . 

Mortars,  for  cracking  grain  by  pounding  with 
a  pestle,  are  often  used  in  the  East.  They  are 
made  of  metal,  earthenware,  wood,  or  stone, 
the  last  being  the  most  common  material.  The 
pestle  is  usually  about  five  feet  long.  Some 
times  two  pestles  are  used  at  the  same  time  for 
one  mortar,  the  two  persons  holding  them 
striking  alternate  blows,  like  blacksmiths  at  an 
anvil.  The  ancient  Israelites  used  the  mortar 
for  beating  their  manna.  Num.  xi,  8. 

There  is  no  evidence  that  the  Hebrews  ever- 
administered  punishment  literally  in  the  way 
indicated  in  the  text,  but  it  has  been  dono 
among  other  nations.  Beating  to  death  in  a 
mortar  is  a  State  punishment  which  is  some- 

times  indicted  in  Turkev  and  in  India. 

Proverbs.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  241 


XXX,  83.  Surely  the  churning  of  milk  bringeth  forth  butter, 
and  the  wringing  of  the  nose  bringeth  forth  blood :  so  the 
forcing  of  wrath  bringeth  forth  strife. 

There  is  but  little  in  the  Eastern  mode  of  preparing  butter  that  is  similar 
to  our  churning.  The  milk  is  put  into  a  bag  or  bottle,  made  of  the 
skin  of  a  goat  or  of  a  buffalo,  and  is  agitated  in  various  ways  until  the 
butter,  such  as  it  is,  comes.  See  note  on  Gen.  xviii,  8.  Sometimes  the  skin 
containing  the  milk  is  shaken  to  and  fro,  or  beaten  with  sticks.  Some- 
limes  it  is  placed  on  the  ground  and  trodden  upon.  Thus  Job  says,  "  I 
washed  my  steps  with  butter."  Job  xxix,  6.  Again,  it  is  pressed  or  squeezed 
with  the  hands,  so  that  the  contents  become  agitated  and  gradually  coagu 
late.  This  last  method  is  probably  referred  to  in  the  text.  There  is  a 
beauty  in  the  original  which  does  not  appear  in  our  English  version.  The 
word  mils  is  thrice  repeated,  but  is  translated  by  three  different  terms : 
"churning,"  "wringing,"  "forcing."  It  literally  means  "pressing"  or 
"squeezing,"  just  as  the  skin  bag  is  pressed  or  squeezed  for  the  production 
of  butter.  The  nose  treated  in  a  similar  manner  will  bleed,  and  wrath 
which  is  thus  "  pressed  "  will  result  in  strife. 



IX,  8.    Let   thy    garments    be    always  white. 

In  the  warm  countries  of  the  East  white  clothing  is  more  frequently  and 
generally  worn  than  with  us.  This  allusion  to  white  garments  is  a  beauti 
ful  figurative  exhortation  to  perpetual  purity  of  character,  and  one  that 
would  be  readily  appreciated  by  the  Oriental  mind.  "  May  God  blacken  his 
face  "  is  a  common  imprecation  in  the  East.  Mohammed  is  often  called  "  He 
of  the  .white  face."  In  the  Bible  there  are  a  number  of  references  to  white 
garments  as  typical  of  purity.  In  Dan.  vii,  9,  the  Deity  is  represented  as 
clad  in  a  "garment  white  as  snow."  When  Jesus  was  transfigured  "his 
raiment  was  white  as  the  light."  Matt,  xvii,  2.  The  angels  appeared  in 
white  robes  when  the  disciples  visited  the  tomb  of  their  risen  Lord,  (Matt, 
xxviii,  3;  Mark  xvi,  5;  Luke  xxiv,  4;  John  xx,  12,)  and  also  when  he  as 
cended  into  heaven.  Acts  i,  10.  The  redeemed  are  to  be  clothed  in  white. 
Rev.  vii,  13  ;  xix,  14. 


242  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.         [Ecclesiastes. 


XI,  1.  Cast  thy  bread,  upon  the  waters :  for  thou  shalt  find  it 
after  many  days. 

Many  interpreters  are  of  the  opinion  that  there  is  here  an  allusion  to  the 
manner  of  sowing  rice  in  Egypt,  that  is,  by  scattering  it  broadcast  in  the 
mud,  or  upon  the  overflowing  waters  of  the  Nile.  Others,  however,  dispute 
this,  claiming  that  there  is  110  evidence  of  the  cultivation  of  rice  having 
been  introduced  into  Egypt  as  early  as  the  days  of  Solomon.  These  com 
mentators  consider  the  expreBsion  merely  figurative  without  being  based  on 
any  actual  custom. 


474.— TENTS. 

I,  5.  I  am  black,  but  comely,  O  ye  daughters  of  Jerusalem, 
as  the  tents  of  Kedar,  as  the  curtains  of  Solomon. 

Tents  were  among  the  early  habitations  of  man,  though  not  the  earliest, 
since  they  were  not  introduced  until  the  time  of  Jabal,  who  was  in  the  seventh 
generation  from  Adam.  See  Gen.  iv,  20.  The  first  tents  were  doubtless 
made  of  skins,  though  afterward  when  the  process  of  weaving  became  known 
they  were  made,  as  they  are  at  this  day,  of  cloth  of  camels'  hair,  or  of  goats' 
hair,  spun  by  the  women.  The  latter  is  the  material  most  commonly  used 
by  the  Arabs,  and  since  the  goats  are  usually  black,  or  a  very  dark  brown, 
the  tents  exhibit  the  same  appearance.  It  was  thus  in  the  days  of  Solomon 
with  the  tents  made  by  the  descendants  of  the  Ishmaelitish  Kedar.  These 
tents  individually  are  not  very  beautiful  objects,  but  when  arranged  in  the 
form  of  a  circular  encampment,  with  the  cattle  inclosed  by  the  circle  of 
tents,  and  the  sheikh's  tent  in  the  center,  they  present  a  picturesque 
appearance.  Balaam  was  impressed  with  the  beauty  of  such  a  scene  when 
he  beheld  the  vast  encampment  of  the  Israelites,  and  exclaimed,.  '-How 
goodly-are  thy  tents,  0  Jacob,  and  thy  tabernacles,  0  Israel!"  Num.  xxiv,  5. 

The  Arab  tents  are  of  various  sizes,  according  to  the  number  of  the  family 
or  the  wealth  of  the  proprietor.  The  number  of  poles  to  a  tent  varies  from 
one  to  qirie.  Some  tents  are  circular  in  shape,  some  square,  and  others 
oblong,  The  covering  is  spread  over  the  poles,  which  are  fastened  in  the 
ground.  The  edges  of  the  cover  have  leather  loops,  to  which  are  attached 
the  cords  of  the  tent,  which  are  sometimes  stretched  out  tight  and  fastened 

Solomon's  Song.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  245 

to  the  ground  by  means  of  iron  or  wooden  pins,  or  else  are  fastened  to 
upright  posts,  on  which  a  curtain  is  hung  around  the  tent,  forming  the  walls, 
which  can  be  removed  at  pleasure  without  disturbing  the  rest  of  the  tent. 
Other  cords  reach  from  the  top  of  the  tent  to  the  ground,  where  they  are 
fastened  with  pins,  thus  steadying  the  whole  structure.  It  was  one  of  these 
pins  which  Jael  drove  into  the  head  of  Sisera.  Judges  iv,  21. 

The  tent  erected,  and  its  cords  stretched  out,  are  often  figuratively  alluded 
to  in  the  Bible.  Thus  Isaiah  represents  God  as  the  one  "that  stretcheth 
out  the  heavens  as  a  curtain,  and  spreadeth  them  out  as  a  tent  to  dwell  in." 
Isa.  xl,  22.  He  also  says,  in  speaking  of  the  glorious  prosperity  of  the 
Church  and  the  need  of  enlargement,  "  Enlarge  the  place  of  thy  tent,  and  let 
them  stretch  forth  the  curtains  of  thine  habitations:  spare  not,  lengthen  thy 
cords,  and  strengthen  thy  stakes."  Isa.  liv,  2.  See  also  Isa.  xxxiii,  20. 

It  is  a  work  of  some  effort  to  pitch  a  tent  properly,  especially  a  large  one, 
requiring  the  united  efforts  of  willing  hands.  Hence  the  pathetic  language 
of  Jeremiah  in  mourning  over  the  desolations  of  God's  people :  "  My  taber 
nacle  is  spoiled,  and  all  my  cords  are  broken  :  my  children  are  gone  forth  of 
me,  and  they  are  not:  there  is  none  to  stretch  forth  my  tent  any  more,  and 
to  set  up  my  curtains."  Jer.  x,  20. 

The  large  tents  have  nine  poles,  placed  in  three  rows,  covering  sometimes 
a  space  twenty  to  twenty-five  feet-long,  ten  feet  wide,  and  eight  to  ten  feet 
high  in  the  middle,  with  the  sides  sloping.  Such  tents  often  have  a  curtain 
hung  on  the  middle  row  of  poles,  dividing  the  tent  into  two  parts,  one  for 
the  men,  and  the  other  for  the  women.  See  notes  on  Gen.  xviii,  10; 
xxiv,  67.  The  poles  which  thus  uphold  the  tent  and  divide  it  into  sections 
are  further  made  useful  by  having  hooks  driven  into  them  from  which  are 
suspended  clothes,  baskets,  saddles,  weapons,  and  various  other  articles  of 
daily  use. 

These  tents  are  rapidly  struck  and  removed  from  place  to  place,  so  that 
the^  eye  which  to-day  rests  on  a  large  encampment  active  with  life  may  to 
morrow  behold  nothing  but  a  wilderness.  Thus  Isaiah  says,  "  Mine  age  is 
departed,  and  is  removed  from  me  as  a  shepherd's  tent."  Isa.  xxxviii,  12. 
The  facility  with  which  tents  are  taken  down,  and  the  frailty  of  their  material, 
are  beautifully  alluded  to  by  Paul  in  2  Cor.  v,  1.  See  also  2  Peter  i,  13,  14. 

Tents  of  cotton,  linen,  or  silk  are  used  for  traveling  or  for  holiday  pur- 
poses,  are  of  all  colors,  and  are  sometimes  very  magnificent.  Stories  which 
would  be  incredible  if  not  from  good  authorities,  are  told  of  the  splendor  of 
state  tents  which  have  been  reared  by  Oriental  monarchs.  Silver,  gold, 
precious  stones,  silk,  velvet,  camels'  hair  cloth,  and  brocades,  have  combined 
to  make  these  structures  at  once  costly  and  splendid.  The  state  tents  of 
Tamerlane  are  said  to  have  had  poles  of  sliver  inlaid  with  gold,  curtains  of 
velvet,  and  ropes  of  silk.  Nadir  Shah  had  a  state  tent  the  outside  of  which 



BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.    [Solomon's  Song. 

was  of  fine  scarlet  broadcloth,  and  the  lining  of  violet-colored  satin.  On 
this  lining  were  embroideries  in  pearls,  diamonds,  rubies,  emeralds,  amethysts, 
and  other  precious  stones,  representing  birds,  beasts,  trees,  and  flowers. 

No  description  is  given  us  of  Solomon's  state  tents;  indeed,  some  suppose 
that  the  "curtains"  mentioned  in  the  text  refer  to  some  of  the  splendid 
hangings  of  his  palace.  The  unity  of  the  passage,  however,  suggests  the 
idea  of  tents,  and  it  is  not  at  all  improbable  that  Solomon,  the  luxurious 
monarch  who  spared  no  expense  to  gratify  his  taste,  had  tents  of  magnifi 
cence  commensurate  with  his  royal  grandeur.  The  King  of  Babylon  had  a 
royal  pavilion  though  no  description  is  given  of  it.  Jer.  xliii,  10. 


I,  7.  Tell  me,  O  thou  whom  my  soul  loveth,  where  thou  feed- 
est,  where  thou.  makest  thy  floek  to  rest  at  noon. 

During  the  heat  of  the  day  the  shepherds  are  in  the  habit  of  leading  their 
nocks  to  some  cool  and  shady  spot,  where  they  recline  and  rest  until  the 
shadows  lengthen.  The  sheep  sleep,  or  chew  the  cud,  while  the  shepherds 
pass  the  time  in  some  light  employment,  such  as  plaiting  mats,  or  in  musing 
or  story  telling. 


I,  10.  Thy  cheeks  are  comely  with  rows  of  jewels,  thy  neck 
with  chains  of  gold. 

1.  Eastern  women  sometimes  have  a  cord  of  gold  around  their  head  at  the 
forehead,  on  which  are  strung  precious  stones  of  various  sorts,  which  hang 
down  over  the  cheeks  of  the  fair  wearers.  Thus  their  "cheeks  are  comely 
with  rows  of  jewels." 


Solomon's  Song.]    BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS. 


2.  Neck  (,h;uns  were  made  of  gold  or  other  metal,  or  else  consisted  of 
striugs  of  pearls,  corals,  and  precious  stones.  They  were  sometimes  made 
of  gold-pieces  shaped  like  a  half-moon.  Such  are  referred  to  in  Isa.  iii,  18: 
'•round  tires  like  the  moon.''  See  also  note  on  Judges  viii,  21.  These  neck 
laces  hung  low  down  upon  the  breast,  and  were  worn  both  by  men  and 
women.  See  Prov.  i.  9 ;  iii,  3.  This  was  the  custom  among  the  Egyptians 
as  well  as  the  Hebrews ;  Joseph  had  a  gold  chain  put  around  his  neck  by 
Pharaoh.  Gen.  xli,  42.  The  Medes,  Persians,  Babylonians,  and  other  an 
cient  nations,  followed  the  same  custom.  See  Dan.  v,  7,  16,  29.  Neck  chains 
are  also  referred  to  in  Sol.  Song  iv,  9;  Ezek.  xvi,  11. 

477.— USE  OF  RAISINS. 

II,  5.    Stay  me  with  flagons,  comfort  me  with  apples. 
Ashishotli,  "flagons,"  is  conceded  by  the  best  authorities  to  mean,  not 

drinking  vessels,  but  c;ikes  of  pressed  raisins,  such  as  are  often  used  in  the 
East,  by  travelers,  for  refreshment.  The  word  also  occurs  in  2  Sam.  vi,  19; 
1  Chron.  xvi,  3 ;  and  Hosea  iii,  1.  In  the  last  passage  anabim,  which  is  ren 
dered  "  wine,"  should  be  translated  "  grapes,"  as  it  is  in  the  margin.  Instead 
of  "flagons  of  wine,"  we  should  then  read  "cakes  of  grapes."  Some  think 
there  is  a  reference  in  that  passage  to  the  custom  of  offering  such  cakes 
iu  sacrifice  to  heathen  deities. 


III,  9, 10.    King  Solomon  made  himself  a  chariot  of  the  wood  of 
Lebanon.      He    made    the    pillars    thereof  of  silver,    the    bottom 
thereof  of  gold,  the  covering  of  it  of  purple. 

Ap2)iryon,  "chariot,"  is  a  litter,  or  palanquin,  a  vehicle  of  very  ancient 
use,  and  still  common  in  the  East.  The  same  conveyance  is  referred  to  in 
the  word  tsab  in  Num. 
vii,  3,  and  Isa.  Ixvi,  20. 
In  the  former  passage 
it  is  translated  "wag 
on,"  in  the  latter  "lit 
ter."  The  palanquin  is 
innde  of  a  light  frame 
work  of  wood,  and  is 
covered  with  cloth,  hav 
ing  a  lattice  door  or 
window  at  each  side. 
Two  strong  poles  are 
fastened  to  it,  which  in 

are  borne  on  the  94. — AI:CEENT  EGYPTIAN  LITTER  OR  PAI.ANQTTIN. 

248  HLBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.    [Solomon VSong. 

shoulders  of  men,  but  in  Western  Asia  are  harnessed  to  mules,  horses,  or 
camels,  one  of  the  animals  being  at  each  end.  Occasionally  four  beasts  are 
employed,  two  at  each  end,  and  sometimes  a  litter  is  so  contrived  as  to  be 
fastened  to  the  back  of  a  single  camel.  Engraving  number  11,  p.  40,  has  a 
representation  of  a  camel  litter. 

Litters  are  often  of  great  magnificence,  especially  if  they  belong  to  royalty. 
The  woodwork  is  richly  carved,  and  ornamented  with  gold,  and  silver,  and 
precious  stones.  The  canopy  is  of  silk,  satin,  or  brocade,  and  ornamented 
with  jewels.  These  conveyances  are  ordinarily  shaped  like  a  couch,  and  are 
so  made  that  the  traveler  can  lie  down  at  full  length  if  desired. 


V,  7.  The  -watchmen  that  went  about  the  city  found  me,  they 
smote  me,  they  wounded  me  ;  the  keepers  of  the  walls  took 
away  my  vail  from  me. 

There  were  not  only  watchmen  stationed  on  the  walls  to  p-uard  against 
the  approach  of  enemies,  (see  note  on  2  Sam.  xviii,  26,)  but  there  were  others 
whose  duty  it  was  to  patrol  the  streets  of  the  city  and  preserve  o^der.  See 
Psa.  cxxvii,  1 ;  Sol.  Song  iii,  3.  There  are  such  in  Oriental  cities  to-day,  and 
they  challenge  all  persons  found  abroad  after  certain  hours  of  the  night, 
arresting  those  that  are  not  able  to  give  a  good  account  of  themselves,  and 
sometimes  subjecting  them  to  rough  treatment. 



I,  6.  They  have  not  been  closed,  neither  bound  up,  neither 
mollified  with  ointment. 

The  Hebrews  had  but  little  knowledge  of  surgery,  less  than  the  Egyptians. 
They  seldom  used  inward  remedies,  but  trusted  mainly  to  outward  applica 
tions.  See  note  on  Prov.  iii,  8.  The  text  illustrates  the  treatment  of 
wounds;  they  were  "closed,"  that  is,  the  lips  of  the  wound  were  pressed 
together  and  bound,  that  cohesion  of  the  parts  might  be  effected.  "There 
was,  and  is,  no  sewing  up  of  wounds  in  the  East;  and  hence  the  edges, 
healing  without  being  perfectly  united,  make  the  scar  of  a  wound  more  con 
spicuous  and  disfiguring  than  with  us.  The  only  attempt  to  produce  cohe 
sion  is  by  'binding  up '  the  wound,  after  the  edges  have  been  as  far  as  possi 
ble  'closed'  by  simple  pressure.'1 — KITTO,  Daily  Bible  Illus.,  vol.  vi,  p.  25. 

Isaiah.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  249 

4§1.— LODGE  IN  A  GARDEN. 

I,  8.  The  daughter  of  Zion  is  left  as  a  cottage  in  a  vineyard,  as 
a  lodge  in  a  garden  of  cucumbers. 

As  the  fields  were  not  always  provided  with  fences  it  became  necessary 
to  have  persons  to  watch  them,  especially  while  the  fruit  was  ripening, 
in  order  to  keep  off  all  depredators,  whether  man,  beast,  or  bird.  These 
''keepers  of  a  field"  are  referred  to  in  Jer.  iv,  17,  and  they  are  still  to  be 
seen  in  the  East.  During  the  ripening  season  they  watch  day  and  night 
and  through  all  sorts  of  weather,  and  hence  need  some  protection  from  ex 
cessive  heat,  dew,  or  storm.  This  protection  is  found  in  temporary  huts, 
which  are  made  of  closely  twined  branches  and  leaves,  or  of  pieces  of  mat 
ting  thrown  over  a  rude  framework  of  poles.  There  is  an  allusion  to  such  a 
frail  structure  in  Job  xxvii,  18,  and  also  in  Isa.  xxiv,  20.  When  the  crop  is 
gathered  and  the  field  forsaken  the  deserted  lodge  soon  leans  and  falls,  and 
the  whole  scene  is  one  of  utter  loneliness.  It  was  such  a  picture  of  deso 
lation  to  which  the  prophet  compares  "the  daughter  of  Zion." 


II,  4.     They  shall   beat  their  swords    into    plowshares.      See  also 
Joel  iii,  10,  and  Micah  iv,  3. 

In  the  passage  in  Joel  the  expression  is  reversed :  "  Beat  your  plowshares 
into  swords."  Commentators  are  divided  as  to  the  meaning  of  ittim,  va 
riously  rendering  it  :1  plowshares,"  "spades,"  "hoes,"  "mattocks."  The 
word  refers  to  instruments  for  stirring  up  the  soil  in  some  way,  and,  so  far 
as  concerns  capability  of  conversion  to  swords,  these  may  as  well  have  been 
plowshares  as  any  thing  else.  The  plowshare  was  a  small  piece  of  iron, 
which  somewhat  resembled  a  short  sword,  and  might  easily  have  been 
beaten  into  one,  and  with  equal  facility  a  sword  could  have  been  changed 
into  a  plowshare. 


III,  16.    Because  the  daughters  of  Zion  are   haughty,  and  walk 
with    stretched- forth    necks    and     wanton     eyes,    walking    and 
mincing  as  they  go,  and  making  a  tinkling  with  their  feet. 

1.  Roberts  finds  in  this  and  in  the  following  verses  an  accurate  description 
of  the  Hindoo  dancing-girls  who  are  trained  for  service  in  idolatrous  temples. 
"  When  these  females  dance  they  stretch  forth  their  necks,  and  hold  them 
awry,  as  if  their  heads  were  about  to  fall  off  their  shoulders."  "As  the 
votaries  glide  along  they  roll  their  eyes,  (which  are  painted,)  and  cast  wan 
ton  glances  on  those  around." — Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  386. 




2.  Some  suppose  the  "mincing"  refers  to  a  tripping  step  in  the  dance; 
others  think  that  the  reference  is  to  slender  golden  chains  reaching  from  one 
ankle  to  another,  and  compelling  them  to  take  short  and  rapid  steps.  See 

note  on  verse  20. 

3.  The  "tinkling  with  their  feet"  may 
have  been  made  simply  by  the  striking  of 
anklets  one  upon  another,  or  by  bells  or 
other  small  ornaments  attached  to  the  an 
klets.  These  auklets  were  of  gold,  silver,  or 
iron,  according  to  the  taste  or  means  of  the 
wearer,  and  are  still  worn  by  Oriental  wom 
en.  They  are  sometimes  quite  heavy,  and 
special  pains  are  taken  to  strike  them  to- 

•        I    \      \  gether,  in  order  to  make  a  jingle.     When 

J/    V.-J&  they  are  hollow,  as  is  often  the  case,  the 

felt       Jk^S.  snarP  sound  is  increased.     In  Egypt  and  in 

S  J-  1         r       ^^N-^    India  some  of  the  anklets  have  small  round 

«X^ — — *         ^ -3$**^    bells  attached  to  them,  and  these  bells  some- 

95.— ANCIENT  EGYPTIAN  ANKLETS.  timeg  jmve  ]jttle  pebbles  in  them,  which 
strike  like  tiny  clappers.  Leyrer  (in  HERZOG'S  Real.  Ency.,  vol.  vii,  p.  731) 
suggests  that  it  may  have  been  in  some  such  way  that  the  wife  of  Jeroboam 
announced  her  presence,  "when  Abijali  heard  the  sound  of  her  feet,  as  she 
came  in  at  the  door."  1  Kings  x.iv,  6. 

484.— CAULS— TIRES. 
Ill,  IS.    Their  cauls  and.  their  round  tires  like  the  moon. 

1.  What  is  meant  by  shebisim,  "canls,"  is  not  certain.  The  marginal 
reading  is  "net-works,"  and  many  writers  suppose  that  nets  for  the  hair  are 
meant.  These  were  ancient 
ly  worn,  as  is  evident  from 
the  Egyptian  and  Assyrian 
monuments,  and  from  speci 
mens  which  have  found  their 
way  to  museums.  Others 
think  that  reference  is  made 
here  to  the  mode  of  dressing  96.— ASSYBIAK  NETS  FOR  THE  HAIR. 

the  hair,  arranging  it  into  tresses,  and  attaching  to  it  golden  ornaments  and 
small  coins,  or  so  braiding  it  as  to  resemble  checker-work.     A  German  au 
thor  (Schroeder)  conjectures  that  shebisim  were  small  metallic  ornaments  re 
sembling  the  sun,  and  he  would  associate  them  with  the  moon-ornam 
mentioned  in  the  same  verse.     This  interpretation  is  accepted  by  Fuerst 
others,  but  rejected  by  authorities  equally  good. 

Isaiah.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  251 

2.  Saharonim,  "round  tires  like  the  moon,"  were  metallic  moon-shaped 
ornaments  hung  around  the  neck.  Similar  ornaments  were  sometimes  hung 
ubout  the  necks  of  camels.  See  note  on  Judges  viii,  21. 

Ill,  19.    The  chains  and  the  bracelets  and  the  mufflers. 

1.  Netiphoth,  "chains,"  were  properly  pendents,  or  ear-drops.     See  note 
on  Gen.  xxxv,  4. 

2.  Sheroth,   "bracelets,"  were  probably  bracelets  made  of  gold  wire,  and 
wreathed  or  woven. 

3.  Realoth,  "  mufflers,"  were  thin  vails.     The  Hebrew  name  was  given  to 
them  because  of  their  tremulous  or  fluttering  motion. 

Ill,  20.    The    bonnets,  and   the   ornaments   of  the    legs,  and   the 
headbands,  and  the  tablets,  and  the  ear-rings. 

1.  The  "bonnets"  of  the  Oriental  women,  it  is  hardly  necessary  to  say, 
bear  no  resemblance  to  the  articles  known  by  that  name  among  us.     They 
resemble  the  turbaned  head-dresses  of  the  men,  but  are  less  bulky  and  of 
finer  materials.     A  cap  is  put  on  the  head  around  which  are  wound  rich 
handkerchiefs  or  shawls,  folded  high  and  flat.     Gold  and  silver  ornaments 
and  jewels  are  added  according  to  the  taste  of  the  wearer.     The  original 
word  peer  conveys  the  idea  of  ornament,  and  is  rendered  -'beauty"  in  Isa. 
hi,  3;   "ornaments"  in  Isa.  Ixi,    10;    and  "tire"  in   Ezek.  xxiv,    17,    23. 
Saalsehutz  supposes  the  peer  to  have  been  a  metallic  crown  of  filigree  work, 
fastened  around  the  cap. 

2.  "The  ornaments  of  the  legs"  (tseadoth)   were  probably  step-chains, 
that  is,  "  short  chains  which  Oriental  females  wore  attached  to  the  ankle- 
band  of  each  foot,  so  as  to  compel  them  to  take  short  and  mincing  steps,  to 
walk  mincingly." — GESBXIDS. 

3.  Kishshurim,  "  headband-',"  are  supposed  by  some  critics  to  denote  fillets 
for  the  hair.     Others,  however,  interpret  them  to  mean  girdles.     The  same 
word  is  rendered  "attire"  in  Jer.  ii,  32. 

4.  Battey-hamnephesh,    ':  tablets,"   is   literally   "  houses   of  breath."    The 
margin  has,  "  houses  of  the  soul."     There  is  thought  by  some  to  be  a  refer 
ence  here  to  boxes  or  bottles  which  were  filled  with  perfume,  and  fastened 
to  the  necklace  or  the  girdle.     Chardin  mentions  having  seen  the  women  in 
Persia  with  small  golden  boxes  of  filigree   work,  whicli  were  filled  with  a 
black  mixture  of  musk  and  amber. 

Roberts,  however,  disputes  this  interpretation,  and  thinks  these  '*  houses 
of  the  soul "  find  their  counterpart  in  certain  ornaments  which  are  worn  by 





Hindu  women,  and  made  of  silver  or  gold,  and  richly  adorned  with  precious 
stones.     He  says :   "  The  dancing-girls,   the  wives  of  the   pandarams,  and 


many  other  women,  wear  an  ornament  resembling  a  house,  and  sometimes 
a  temple,  which  contains  an  image  corresponding  with  the  4>a?iAof  of  the 
Greeks  and  the  Priapus  of  the  Romans.7' — Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  388. 

5.  Lediasliim,  "  ear-rings,"  are  thought  to  have  been  charms  or  amulets 
made  of  gold,  silver,  or  precious  stones,  perhaps  in  the  shape  of  serpents,  or 
with  serpents  engraven  on  them.  They  may  have  been  used  as  ear-rings 
also.  See  note  on  Gen.  xxxv,  4. 


Ill,  22.  The  changeable  suits  of  apparel,  and  the  mantles, 
and  the  wimples,  and  the  crisping  pins. 

1.  Machelatsoth,  "changeable  suits  of  apparel,"  were  costly  garments  of 
any  kind  which  were  used  only  on  festival  occasions,  and  put  off  when  at 
home.     The  same  word  is  rendered  '-change  of  raiment"  in  Zech.  iii,  4. 

2.  Maataphoth,  "mantles,"  are   supposed  by  some  to  have   been    cloaks 
or  mantles  of  ample  folds,  which  were  worn  outside  of  the  other  garments ; 
while  others  think  that  they  were  a  fashionable  sort  of  upper  tunic. 

3.  Mtpachoth,   "  wimples,"  were   wide  upper   garments,    the   distinction 
between  which  and  maataphoth  is  not  clear,  unless  the  latter  explanation 
above  given  is  correct.     The  word  is  rendered  "  vail "  in  Ruth  iii,  15,  where 
see  the  note. 

4.  Chariiim,  "crisping-pins,"  are  now  thought  by  the  best  authorities  to 
have  had  nothing  to  do  with  the  hair,  as  our  translators  supposed,  but  to 




have  been  richly  ornamented  purses  of  gold  or  embroidered  work,  long  and 
round  in  form,  perhaps  like  an  inverted  cone,  and  suspended  from  the  girdle. 
We  have  the  idea  more  correctly  expressed  in  2  Kings  v,  23,  where  the 
same  word  is  translated  "  bags." 


Ill,  23.    The    glasses,    and.    the    fine    linen,   and.  the  hoods,   and 
the  vails. 

1.  Gilyonim,  "glasses,"  are  probably  the  small  metallic  mirrors  where 
with  Oriental  women  adorn  their  persons.     See  note  on  Exod.  xxxviii,  8. 
The  Septuagint,  however,  and  a  number  of  eminent  commentators,  under 
stand  the  word  to  mean  "  transparent  garments,"  referring  to  the  garments 
of  thin  gauze  or  other  material  so  delicately  made  as  to  reveal  the  form  of 
the  wearer.     Such  were  the  celebrated  Coan  garments  of  classic  writers,  and 
dresses  of  this  sort  are  still  used  in  the  East,  often  richly  ornamented  with 
gold  spangles. 

2.  Sedinim,  "  fine  linen,"  is  mentioned  in  Judges  xiv,  12,  13.  as  a  part  of 
the  gift  which  Samson  offered  to  any  who  would  guess  his  riddle.     In  our 
version   the  word   is  there  rendered  "  sheets."      It  also   occurs   in   Prov. 
xxxi,  24,  in  Solomon's  description  of  "  a  virtuous  woman."     The  sedinim 
were  inner  garments  or  tunics. 

3.  Tseniphoth,    "  hoods,"   were   coverings   for   the   head,    the   difference 
between  which  and  the  peerim,  or  "bonnets,"  of  verse  20  it  is  not  easy  now 
to  determine.     The  etymology  of  the  two  words  would  suggest  that  the 
tseniphoth  were  simply  the  turbaned  wrappers  which  were  wound  around 
the  heads,  while  the  peerim  were  the   same, 

with  rich  ornaments  attached.  Some  writers, 
however,  suppose  the  tsenipJtoth  to  have  been 
merely  ribbons  for  binding  the  hair  or  fasten 
ing  the  tiara.  The  word  in  the  singular  is 
rendered  "diadem"  in  Job  xxix,  14,  and  Isa. 
Ixii,  3. 

4.  Redidim,  "vails,"  differed  somewhat  from 
the   realofh,  "mufflers,"  of  verse  19.     Kitto 
supposes  the  "  radid  to  have  been  a  kind  of 
head  vail   which    ladies  wear  at   home,    and 
which,  not  being  intended  for  concealment  of  ; 
the   features,   rests  upon   the  head  and  falls! 
down  over  the  back.     It  is  of  very  light  tex-f 
ture,  being  usually  a  long  strip  of  muslin  em- ' 
broidered  with   threads  of  colored  silk    and 
gold,   forming    altogether  one   of  the    most 

254  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Isaiah. 

graceful  articles  in  the  female  attire  of  the  East." — Daily  Bible  Illustrations, 
vol.  vi,  p.  53. 


IIJ,  24.  Instead  of  well-set  hair,  baldness,  and  instead  of  a 
stomacher,  a  girding  of  sackcloth. 

1.  The  women  of  the  East  have  always  paid  special  attention  to  dressing 
the  hair.     Folds,  braids,  and  tresses  in  every  variety  are  a  so1  rcc  of  pride. 
See  note  on  1  Peter  iii,  3.     On  the  other  hand, 

baldness  is  considered  a  great  calamity  and  is 
made  an  occasion  for  contempt.  See  note  on 
2  Kings  ii,  23.  Thus  the  change  from  u  well- 
set  hair  *'  to  "  baldness  "  would  be  regarded  as 
a  serious  misfortune. 

2.  Ptthigil,    "stomacher,"    is   supposed    by 
some  to  have  been  a  girdle,  made  of  beautiful 
and   costly  materials  and  richly  embroidered. 
Others,  from  the  etymology  of  the  word,  and 
from  the  contrast  between  the  "stomacher" 
and  the  "girding  of  sackcloth,"  suppose  it  lo 
have  been  a  wide  loose  flowing  mantle  char 
acteristic  of  luxury  and  wantonness.  99.— ANCIENT  EGYPTIAN  MODK  OK 



Ill,  26.  Her  gates  shall  lament  and  mourn  ;  and  she  being 
desolate  shall  sit  upon  the  ground. 

Sitting  on  the  ground  was  a  posture  which  denoted  deep  distress.  When 
Job's  friends  came  to  sympathize  with  him,  "they  sat  down  with  him  upon 
the  ground  seven  days  and  seven  nights,  and  none  spake  a  word  unto  him: 
for  they  saw  that  his  grief  was  very  great."  Job  ii,  13.  When  the  Jews  were 
in  captivity,  it  is  said,  "By  the  rivers  of  Babylon,  there  we  sat  down,  yea, 
we  wept,  when  we  remembered  Zion."  Psa.  cxxxvii,  1.  Jeremiah  also 
alludes  to  the  same  custom  in  Lam.  ii,  10;  iii,  28.  The  same  idea  is  rep 
resented  in  a  more  intensified  form  in  the  expressions,  "wallow  thyself  in 
ashes,"  Jer.  vi,  26,  and  "  roll  thyself  in  the  dust."  Micah  i,  10. 

Most  of  the  Roman  coins  which  were  struck  in  commemoration  of  the 
capture  of  Jerusalem  have  on  one  side  the  figure  of  a  woman  sitting  on  the 
ground,  usually,  though  not  in  every  instance,  under  the  shade  of  a  palm 
tree.  The  figure  is  generally  represented  with  one  hand  to  the  head,  which 
rests  upon  it  inclining  forward,  and  the  other  hanging  over  the  knee,  thus 
presenting  a  picture  of  great  grief.  In  one  instance,  however,  the  hands  are 

Isaiah.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  255 

tied  behind  the  back.  These  coins  were  issued  during  the  reigns  of  Ves 
pasian,  Titus,  and  Domitian,  some  of  them  being  struck  in  Judea,  and  some 
in  Rome.  They  are  of  gold,  silver,  and  brass,  and  give  an  apt  illustration 
of  the  custom  referred  to  in  the  text.  Representations  and  descriptions  of 
all  these  coins  may  be  found  in  MADDEN'S  History  of  Jewish  Coinage,  etc., 
chap.  viii. 


V,  26.  He  will  lift  up  an  ensign  to  the  nations  from  far,  and 
will  hiss  unto  them  from  the  end  of  the  earth:  and,  behold, 
they  shall  come  with  speed  swiftly. 

Some  commentators  have  supposed  an  allusion  here,  and  in  chap,  vii,  18, 
to  the  custom  of  calling  bees  from  their  hives  to  the  fields  and  back  again 
by  means  of  a  hiss  or  whistle.  Others,  however,  deny  that  any  such  custom 
existed,  and  claim  that  the  allusion  is  to  another  custom  prevalent  in  the 
East:  that  of  calling  the  attention  of  any  one  in  the  street  by  a  significant 
hiss.  In  the  prophecy  of  Zechariah,  the  Lord  says  concerning  the  children  of 
Ephraim,  "  I  will  hiss  for  them,  and  gather  them."  Zech.  x,  8.  Here  there 
is  doubtless  a  reference  to  the  same  custom  of  calling  attention  by  a  hiss. 


VII,  15.  Butter  and  honey  shall  he  eat ;  that  he  may  know 
to  refuse  the  evil,  and  to  choose  the  good. 

See  also  verse  22.  Honey  is  frequently  mixed  with  various  forms  of 
milk-preparations  and  used  upon  bread.  The  Arabs  in  traveling  often  take 
leathern  bottles  full  of  honey  for  this  purpose.  It  is  considered  very  palat 
able,  especially  by  the  children.  The  context  shows  that  the  reference  in 
the  text  is  made  particularly  to  the  days  of  childhood.  The  fourteenth 
verse  refers  to  the  birth  of  a  son.  and  the  sixteenth  to  his  early  infancy.  It 
is  of  this  child  that  it  is  said,  "  Butter  and  honey  shall  he  eat." 

There  may  be  in  the  mixture  of  these  two  substances  a  propriety  founded 
on  physiological  facts.  "Wood,  in  speaking  of  the  Mnsquaw,  or  American 
Black  Bear,  after  giving  an  account  of  its  method  of  obtaining  the  wild  honey 
which  is  found  in  hollow  trees,  adds  :  "  The  hunters,  who  are  equally  fond 
of  honey,  find  that  if  it  is  eaten  in  too  great  plenty  it  produces  very  unpleas 
ant  symptoms,  which  may  be  counteracted  b}"  mixing  it  with  the  oil  which 
they  extract  from  the  fat  of  the  bear." — Illustrated  Natural  History,  vol.  i, 
p.  397.  "We  find  in  Prov.  xxv,  16,  27,  allusion  to  the  disagreeable  conse 
quences  of  eating  too  much  honey,  and  it  is  possible  that  experience  had 
proved  the  oily  nature  of  the  butter  a  corrective  of  the  honey. 

Butter  is  mentioned  in  connection  with  honey  in  2  Sam.  xvii,  29 ;  Job 
xx,  17:  Sol.  Song  iv,  11.  Honey  and  oil  are  named  together  in  Deut. 
xxxii,  1I5. 


256  BIBLE   MANNERS    AND   CUSTOMS.  [Isaiah. 

493.— THE  MATTOCK. 
VII,  25.    On  all  hills  that  shall  be  digged  with  the  mattock. 

•  This  instrument  was  probably  similar  to  onr  grub-ax,  and  was  made  of 
either  wood  or  iron.  It  was  used  in  mountainous  places,  where  a  plow- 
could  not  be  easily  handled,  for  turning  up  the  soil.  This  fact  is  referred  to 
in  the  text. 


XV,  2.     On  all  their  heads  shall  be   baldness,  and  every  beard 
cut  off. 

To  make  the  head  bald,  or  to  shave  or  pluck  the  beard,  was  a  sign  of 
mourning  among  the  Hebrews  and  many  other  nations.  See  also  Ezra 
ix,  3;  Job  i,  20;  Isa.  xxii,  12;  Jer.  vii,  29;  xvi,  6;  xli,  5;  xlvii,  5;  xlviii,  37; 
Micah  i,  16. 

495.— SINGING   AT   WORK. 

XVI,  10.    Gladness  is  taken    away,  and  joy    out   of  the   plentiful 
field  ;    and   in  the  vineyards  there  shall  be  no   singing,  neither 
shall  there  be  shouting  ;   the  treaders  shall  tread  out  no  wine  in 
their  presses  ;    I  have  made  their  vintage  shouting  to  cease. 

It  was  a  common  custom  among  the  Egyptians  to  sing  at  their  work. 
The  Hebrews  did  the  same,  and  were  especially  jubilant  at  the  time  of  grape 
gathering.  They  plucked  off  the  grapes  with  acclamations  of  joy,  and  car 
ried  them  to  the  wine-press.  There  they  alleviated  the  labor  of  treading  the 
grapes  by  singing,  accompanied  with  musical  instruments  and  joyous  shouts. 
Some  authorities  interpret  hedad,  •' shouting,"  as  an  exclamation  used  by  the 
grape  treaders  as  they  jumped  up  arid  down.  Allusions  are  made  to  the 
joyful  character  of  the  work  of  vintage  in  Judges  ix,  27;  Jer.  xxv,  30; 
xlviii,  33. 


XVIII,  2.  That  sendeth  embassadors  by  the  sea,  even  in  vessels 
of  bulrushes  upon  the  waters. 

The  papyrus  was  used  on  the  Nile  for  making  boats.  Sometimes  bundles 
of  the  plant  were  rudely  bound  together  in  the  form  of  a  raft  or  boat;  at 
other  times  the  leaves  were  plaited,  basket-fashion,  and  coated  with  bitumen 
and  tar.  See  note  on  Exod.  ii,  3.  Similar  boats  are  used  on  the  Euphrates 
and  Tigris.  They  are  circular  in  shape,  and  are  sometimes  covered  with 
leather  instead  of  bitumen. 

Another  style  of  vessel  is  also  used  on  the  Nile.  The  leaves  of  the  papy 
rus  or  the  palm  are  placed  as  a  floor  upon  rafts  made  of  earthen  jars  which 
are  tied  together  by  the  handle?.  These  jar*  are  made  in  Upper  Egypt,  ami 




are  thus  floated  down  stream  by  the  potters,  who  sell  their  ware  and  walk 
back  to  their  homes. 

On  the  Euphrates  find  Tigris  the  floats  are  made  of  inflated  skins  covered 
ft-ith  a  flooring  of  leaves  and  brandies  made  into  wicker  work,  and  having  a 


raised  bulwark  of  the  same.  These  singular  vessels  are  called  kelkks,  and 
are  of  various  sizes,  from  the  little  family  boat  resting  on  three  or  four  skins*, 
to  the  great  rafl,  forty  feet  or  more  in  length,  and  of  proportionate  width. 
The  latter  sort  float  on  several  hundred  skins,  and  bear  an  assorted  cargo  of 
merchandise  besides  passengers.  When  the  cargo  has  reached  its  destina 
tion  the  woodwork  is  sold  for  fuel,  and  the  skins  are  taken  back  by  land  to 
be  re-formed  into  another  vessel.  Boats  of  this  description  have  been  used 
from  early  historic  times,  and  are  referred  to  by  Herodotus  and  other  an 
cient  authors. 


XIX,  8.  The  fishers  also  shall  mourn,  and  all  they  that  east  an 
gle  into  the  brooks  shall  lament,  and  they  that  spread  nets  upon 
the  waters  shall  languish. 

Reference  is  made  in  this  "burden  of  Egypt"  (see  verse  1)  to  the  Egyp 
tian  fisheries.  The  Egyptians  consumed  enormous  quant'ties  of  fish,  which 
they  obtained  from  the  teem'ng  waters  of  the  Nile,  and  of  the  canals  which 
irrigated  the  land.  So  important  was  the  traffic  in  fish  that  at  one  time  the 
royal  profits  from  Lake  Mceris  alone  amounted  to  a  talent  of  silver  a  day,  or 
about  $350,000  a  ye^r.  Large  quantities  of  fish  were  salted;  and  sometimes 
the  fish  were  simply  dried  in  the  sun.  Two  methods  of  Egyptian  fishing  are 
mentioned  in  the  text. 

1.  Ghdkkah,  "angle,"  is  rendered  "hook"  in  Job  xli,  1.  Angling  was  a 
favorite  pastime  with  all  ranks  of  the  Egyptians.  Their  hooks  were  of 

258  BIBLE    MAXXKKS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Isaiah. 

bronze,  and  were  bai'ed  with  ground  bait.     Sometimes  a  short  pole  was  used, 
and  sometimes  the  fisherman  held  the  line  in  his  hand. 

:>..  Jj.'trtwrd/i.  'nets,"  was  a  drag-net,  and  is  so  rendered  in  Hab.  i,  15,  16. 
It  was  of  a  lengthened  form,  having  floats  along  one  edge  and  weights  along 
the  other,  with  a  lope  at  each  end.  It  corresponded  to  our  seine,  and  was 
sometimes  cast  by  hand,  the  men  wading  out  with  it  and  dragging  it  back  to 
ihe  shore,  bringing  the  fish  with  it.  At  other  times  a  boat  was  used,  the 
net  being  cast  overboard  as  the  boat  was  rowed  along.  The  monuments 
give  a  number  of  illustrations  of  fishing  by  nets,  as  well  as  with  the  hook, 
though  it  is  said  that  net-fishing  is  now  unknown  in  Egypt. 


XXI,  5.      Prepare    the    table,    watch    in    the    watch-tower,    eat, 
drink:    arise,  ye  princes,  and  anoint  the  shield. 

Shields  were  made  of  bull-hide,  of  two  or  more  thicknesses,  stretched  over 
a  frame  of  wood,  and  sometimes  strengthened  with  metallic  rims,  and  orna 
mented  in  various  places  by  pieces  of  metal.  An  occasional  rubbing  with 
oil  was  necessary  to  prevent  the  leather  from  becoming  dry  and  cracked,  and 
to  keep  the  metallic  portions  from  rust.  This  was  especially  necessary  on 
getting  ready  for  battle,  and  hence  to  "  anoint  the  shield  "  was  equivalent  to 
a  preparation  for  war. 

499.— ON  THE  ROOFS. 

XXII,  1.    What  aileth  thee  now,  that  thou  art  wholly  gone  up  to 
the  house-tops  ? 

This,  as  Alexander  observes,  (com.  in  loco,)  is  "a  lively  description  of  an 
Oriental  city  in  commotion."  The  flat  roofs  were  used  not  only  for  prom 
enading,  (see  note  on  2  Sam.  xi,  2,)  but  also  as  places  of  general  gathering  in 
times  of  excitement,  just  as  we  gather  in  the  streets.  Prom  the  roofs  the 
inhabitants  were  accustomed  to  look  down  into  the  streets  or  afar  off  on  the 
roads.  This  they  could  not  do  from  the  windows,  as  these  seldom  opened 
on  the  street.  The  prophet  represents  the  entire  people  assembled  on  the 
tops  of  their  houses.  The  precise  object  of  their  gathering  he  does  not  state, 
nor  is  it  here  necessa^  to  discuss.  Whether  for  mere  curiosity,  or  to  assail 
the  invaders,  or  to  indulge  in  idolatrous  worship,  these  gatherings  on  the 
housetops  give  a  striking  illustration  of  Oriental  customs. 


XXII,  6.  Elam  bare  the  quiver  with  chariots  of  men  and  horse 
men,  and  Kir  uncovered  the  shield. 

1.  The  quivers  were  commonly  carried  by  the  archers  on  their  backs,  the 
top  being  near  the  right  shoulder,  so  that  the  arrows  could  be  conveniently 
drawn.  The  quiver  usually  had  two  rings,  one  near  the  top  and  the  other 

-    v;;k  £% 






i  ear  the  bottom,  to  which  was  fastened  a  strap  which  the  archer  slipped 
over  his  left  arm  and  his  head.  Occasionally  the  quiver  was  thrust  through 
one  of  the  cross  belts  or  attached  to  the  body  by  a  girdle-strap.  In  chariots 
the  quivers  were  attached  to  the  sides  of  the  vehicle.  Quivers  were  prob 
ably  made  of  wood  or  of  leather,  and  were  often  very  highly  ornamented. 
Representations  of  quivers  may  be  found  in  cut  No.  70,  p.  178. 

2.  Shields,  when  not  in  use,  were  kept  in  cases,  or  covers,  probably  made 
of  leather,  to  preserve  them  from  dust.  To  "  uncover  the  shield  "  would  be 
equivalent  to  a  preparation  for  battle,  and  is  an  expression  having  the  same 
meaning  as  "anoint  the  shield  "  in  chapter  xxi,  5. 

See  also  note  on  Hab.  iii,  9. 


XXII,  16.  What  hast  thou  here,  and  whom  hast  thou  here, 
that  thou  hast  hewed  thee  out  a  sepuleher  here,  as  he  that 
heweth  him  out  a  sepuleher  on  high,  and  that  graveth  a 
habitation  for  himself  in  a  rock. 

Sepulchers  in  the  East  were  often  hewn  out  of  the  solid  rock,  sometimes 
below  the  level  of  the  ground,  and  frequently  above  ground  and  on  the  sides 
of  mountains.  Chambers  were  excavated  in  the  rock,  and  on  either  side  of 
these  chambers  were  narrow  cells  in  which  the  bodies  of  the  dead  were 
placed,  each  in  its  own  receptacle.  Sometimes  the  long  side  of  the  cell  was 
cut  at  a  right  angle  to  the  passage,  so  that  the  body  of  the  dead  was 
inserted  lengthwise  ;  at  other  times  it  was  cut  parallel  to  the  passage,  so  that 
the  body  was  inserted  sidewise.  In  this  latter  mode  our  Lord  seems  to  have 
been  buried,  since  when  Mary  looke.d  into  the  sepuleher  she  saw  "two 
angels  in  white,  sitting  the  one  at  the  head,  and  the  other  at  the  feet,  where 
the  body  of  Jesus  had  lain."  John  xx,  12.  Sometimes  these  rooms  were 
without  cells,  and  then  the  bodies  rested  on  the  floor.  In  the  larger 
sepulchers  were  passage-ways  leading  to  other  chambers. 

Many  of  these  ancient  sepulchers  are  still  to  be  seen.  The  rock-tombs  of 
Petra  are  among  the  most  celebrated.  A  picture  of  the  famous  "  Corinthian 
Tomb  "  is  appended.  Such  sepulchers  are  also  to  be  found  in  different  parts 
of  Palestine,  but  especially  in  the  neighborhood  of  Jerusalem.  The  rocks 
south  of  the  valley  of  Hinnom  are  full  of  them,  and  the  valley  of  the  Kidron 
contains  a  large  number.  The  most  celebrated  of  these  sepulchers  are  those 
known  by  the  names  of  "  the  Tombs  of  the  Judges,"  at  the  head  of  the  Val 
ley  of  Jehoshaphat,  containing  sixty  niches  for  bodies;  "  the  Tombs  of  the 
Prophets,  or  Apostles,"  on  the  western  declivity  of  the  Mount  of  Olives,  in 
which  thirty  cells  have  been  discovered,  though  doubtless  more  are  con 
cealed  by  rubbish ;  and  "the  Tombs  of  the  Kings,"  a  half-mile  north  of  the 
Damascus  gate.  There  is  no  evidence  that  these  tombs  are  rightly  named, 
but  I  hey  have  all  been  at  some  time  burial-places  of  great  importance. 



The  last-named  is  especially  rich  in  the  ornamentation  of  its  entrance, 
which  is  adorned  with  sculptures  of  fruit  and  flowers ;  and  as  an  account  of 
its  internal  arrangements  will  convey  some  idea  of  the  plan  of  the  best  style 
of  these  rock-tombs,  we  give  an  abstract  of  Dr.  Barclay's  description  of  the 
so-called  "Tombs  of  tl.e  Kings."  They  are  situated  '•  on  the  west  side  of  a 
sunken  court,  about  ninety  feet  square  and  upward  of  twenty  feet  deep. 
These  finely-constructed  catacombs  are  entered  through  a  splendid,  but  now 
much  decayed  and  defaced,  portico,  or  portal  and  hall,  on  its  western  side,  thir 
teen  and  a  half  feet  high  and  twenty-eight  and  a  half  wide.  Near  its  south 
western  corner  is  a  door  beneath  the  level  of  the  floor,  two  and  a  half  feet 
broad  and  less  than  three  feet  high,  opening  into  an  anteroom  about 
nineteen  feet  square.  In  the  western  side  of  this  room  is  a  door  leading 
into  another  room,  thirteen  and  a  half  f.  et  square,  having  in  it  about  a 
dozen  receptacles  for  the  dead,  and  a  passage  leading  by  a  stairway  into  a 
room  ten  feet  by  twelve,  situated  a  story  lower.  There  are  two  rooms 
entered  from  the  south  side  of  the  anteroom  or  hall,  each  having  half  a 
dozen  loculi;  and  from  the  north  side  of  the  westernmost  one  is  a  flight  of 
steps  conducting  to  another  room  in  the  lower  story,  ten  feet  square/' — City 
of  the  Great  King,  p.  191. 

When  Maundrell  visited  these  tombs  in  1G97  he  found  that  "in  every  one 
of  these  rooms,  except  the  first,  were  coffins  of  stone  placed  in  niches  in 
the  sides  of  the  chambers.  They  had  been  at  first  covered  with  handsome 
lids,  and  carved  with  garlands ;  but  now  most  of  them  were  broke  to  pieces 
by  sacrilegious  hands." — Journey  from  Aleppo  to  Jerusalem,  under  date  of 
Marcli  28.  None  of  these  sarcophagi  are  now  remaining,  though  there  are 
still  richly  carved  fragments  strewn  about  the  rooms  and  the  court.  Frag 
ments  of  elegantly  paneled  scone  doors  also  lie  scattered  around.  One  of 
these  was  still  hanging  in  its  place  at  the  time  of  Maundrell's  visit.  It  was 
a  slab  of  stone  six  inches  in  thickness,  and  in  length  and  breadth  about  the 
size  of  an  ordinary  door.  It  turned  on  two  hinges  or  pivots  of  stone,  which 
were  let  into  sockets  cut  out  of  the  rock.  These  doors  were  for  the  interior 
rooms.  The  outer  door-w.-iy  was  closed  by  a  circular  stone,  for  account  of 
which  see  note  on  Matt,  XXVP,  60. 


XXII,  22.    The    key   of    the     house  of  David  will    I    lay  upon    his 
shoulder;    so    he    shall    open,    and    none    shall   shut;     and    h 
shall  shut,   and  none  shall  open. 

Oriental  keys  being  usually  large,  (see  note  on  Judges  iii,  25,)  it  is  often 
matter  of  convenience  to  carry  them  on  the  shoulder.     As  the  possession 
a  key  may  be  taken  as  evidence  of  property  or  of  trust,  the  key  became 
emblem  of  wealth  or  authority.     Eastern  merchants  are  often  seen  carrying 




keys  on  the  shoulder.  In  the  text,  Shebna,  the  treasurer  of  Fezekiah,  is 
warned  that  Kliakim  shall  cany  "the  keys  of  the  house  of  David;  "  that  is, 
that  he  should  become  treasurer  in  Shebna's 
place.  This  is  a  figurative  way  of  expressing 
what  is  said  in  the  twenty-first  verse  :  "  I  will 
commit  thy  government  into  his  hand,"  which 
expression  is  itself  partly  figurative,  the  hand 
being  the  emblem  of  power.  The  idea  con 
tained  in  both  these  passages  is  expressed  in 
Isa.  ix,  6,  where  it  is  said  of  the  Messiah, 
"  the  government  shall  be  upon  his  shoulder." 
The  word  keys  is  used  figuratively  to  denote 
authority  in  Matt,  xvi,  19,  where  Christ  says 
to  Peter:  "I  will  give  unto  thee  the  keys  of 
the  kingdom  of  heaven :  and  whatsoever  thou 
shalt  bind  on  earth  shall  be  bound  in  heaven : 
and  whatsoever  thou  shalt  loose  on  earth 
shall  be  loosed  in  heaven." 

See  also  Rev.  i,  18 ;  iii,  7  ;  ix,  1 ;  xx,  1. 



XX 11,  23.  I  will  fasten  him  as  a  nail  in  a  sure  place,  and.  he 
shall  be  for  a  glorious  throne  to  his  father's  house. 

The  reference  here  is  not  to  the  tent-pins  which  are  driven  into  the  ground 
for  the  purpose  of  fastening  the  tent-cords,  but  to  wooden  pins  or  pegs 
which  are  put  into  the  wall  for  the  purpose  of  holding  clothing  and  various 
household  utensils.  This  is  evident  from  the  two  following  verses.  When 
these  pins  are  driven  into  the  plastering  of  a  house  they  are  very  insecure, 
and  in  a  majority  of  instances  fall  out.  To  fasten  them  "  in  a  sure  place  " 
they  must  be  built  into  the  wall  as  the  house  is  built.  They  are  then  firm, 
and,  being  large,  help  to  strengthen  the  walls  and  at  the  same  time  afford  a 
useful  support  for  the  articles  named.  A  beautiful  reference  to  these 
house-pegs  is  made  in  Ezra  ix,  8,  where  Ezra  speaks  of  God's  grace  which 
had  given  the  people  "a  nail  in  his  holy  place." 

XXIV,  18.    As  the   gleaning  grapes  when  the  vintage  is  done. 

The  Hebrews  were  directed  not  to  p;ck  their  grapes  closely,  but  to  leave 
a  few  for  the  poor.  See  Lev.  xix,  10;  Deut.  xxiv,  21.  This  merciful  pro 
vision  is  referred  to  by  Gideon  when  he  represents  "  the  gleaning  of  the 
grapes  of  Ephraim  "  as  •'  be'ter  than  the  vintage  of  Ab!-ezer."  Judg.  viii,  2. 

264  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [isaiah. 


XXIV,  22.    They    shall    be    gathered    together,     as  prisoners   are 
gathered    in    the   pit,    and    shall    be  shut  up  in   the   prison,   and 
after  many  days   shall   they   be  visited. 

Lowth  (W.)  suggests  that  there  is  a  reference  here  "to  the  custom  of 
kings,  who  used  to  confine  the  chief  commanders  of  their  enemies  whom 
they  take  prisoners  and  reserve  them  for  some  extraordinary  day  of  triumph, 
and  then  bring  them  out  to  public  punishment." — Commentary  in  loco. 


XXV,  6.    A  feast  of  -wines  on  the  lees,   of  fat  things  full  of  mar 
row,  of  wines   on   the   lees  well   refined. 

This  refers  to  wines  that  are  kept  long  with  the  dregs  mixed  with  them, 
and  therefore  old  and  strong.  They  are  refined  or  filtered  by  being  strained 
through  a  cloth  sieve,  thus  separating  the  liquor  from  the  lees.  The  wine 
in  the  East  is  said  to  be  usually  turbid,  and  requires  straining  before  it  is  fit 
for  use. 


XXVII,  11.    "When   the   boughs  thereof  are  withered,  they  shall 
be   broken  off:     the  women  come,   and  set  them  on  fire. 

In  the  East  it  is  the  business  of  women  and  children  to  gather  fuel.  This 
is  the  reason  the  statement  is  so  explicitly  made  here  that  "the  women" 
shall  come  and  set  them  on  fire.  It  has  an  odd  sound  to  us,  for  the  question 
naturally  arises  why  women  rather  than  men  are  mentioned;  but  to  the 
people  of  Isaiah's  time  the  expression  was  perfectly  natural,  as  it  is  to  the 
people  of  the  East  to-day. 


XXVIII,  2T,  28.    The    fitches     are    not    threshed    with   a  threshing 
instrument,   neither    is    a     cart    wheel    turned    about  upon    the 
cummin  ;     but  the   fitches  are  beaten   out    with  a   staff,  and  the 
cummin  with   a  rod.      Bread   corn   is  bruised  ;    because  he  will 
not   ever   be  threshing    it,  nor  break    it    with    the    wheel    of  his 
cart,    nor    bruise   it    with    his   horsemen. 

Four  different  modes  of  threshing  are  here  referred  to : 

1.  With  a  rod  or  rlail.  This  was  for  the  small  delicate  seeds,  such  as 
fitches  and  cummiu.  It  was  also  used  for  grain  when  only  a  small  quantity 
was  to  be  threshed,  or  when  it  was  necessary  to  conceal  the  operation  from 
an  enemy.  It  was  doubtless  in  this  manner  that  Ruth,  when  she  was  in  the 
field  of  Boaz,  "beat  out"  at  evening  what  she  had  gleaned  during  the  day 

Isaiah.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND.  CUSTOMS.  265 

See  Ruth  ii,  17.  It  was  probably  in  the  same  way  that  Gideon  "  threshed 
wheat  by  the  wine-press  to  hide  it  from  the  Midianites."  Judges  vi,  1 1.  With 
a  stick  he  could  beat  out  a  little  at  a  time,  and  conceal  it  in  the  tub  of  the 
wine-press  from  the  hostile  Midianites. 

2.  With  the  charuts,  "threshing  instrument."     This    wag    a  machine  in 
some  respects  resembling  the  ordinary  stone-sledge  of  American  farmers.    Pro 
fessor  Hackett  describes  one  he  saw  at  Beirut:   "The  frame  was  composed 
of  thick  pieces  of  plank,  turned  up  in  front  like  our  stone-sledge,  and  per 
forated  with  holes  underneath  for  holding  the  teeth.     The  teeth  consisted  of 
pieces  of  sharp  basaltic  rock  about  three  inches  long,  and  hardly  less  firm 
than  iron  itself.     This  machine  is  drawn  over  the  grain  by  horses  or  oxen, 
and  serves,  together  with  the  trampling  of  the  feet  of  the  animals,  to  beat 
out  the  kernels  and  cut  up  the  straw  preparatory  to  winnowing." — Illustra 
tions  of  Scripture,   p    161.      The  teeth  were  sometimes  of  iron.     See  Amos 
i,  3.     The  tribulum  of  the  Romans  resembled  this  instrument. 

3.  Agalah,  "  cart-wheel,"  is  supposed  to  have  been  the  same  as  the  morag, 
"threshing  instrument,"   mentioned  in  2  Sam.  xxiv,  22;   1  Chron.  xxi,  23; 
and  Isa.  xli,   15,  though  some  make  the  morag  and  the  charuts  the  same. 
This    instrument    is 

still  known  in  Egypt 
by  the  name  of  mow- 
rej.  It  consists  of 
three  or  four  heavy 
rollers  of  wood,  iron, 
or  stone,  roughly 
made  and  joined  to 
gether  in  a  square 
frame  which  is  in  the  104.— MODERN  MODE  OF  THRESHING  IN  EGYPT  WITH 

form  of  a  sledge  or  TUE  MoWRK'- 

drag.  The  rollers  are  said  to  be  like  the  barrels  of  an  organ  with  their  pro 
jections.  The  cylinders  are  parallel  to  each  other,  and  are  stuck  full  of 
spikes  having  sharp  square  points.  It  is  used  in  the  same  way  as  the 
charuts.  The  driver  sits  on  the  machine,  and  with  his  weight  helps  to  keep 
it  down.  This  instrument  is  probably  referred  to  in  Prov.  xx.  26,  where  it 
is  said,  "  A  wise  king  scattereth  the  wicked  and  bringeth  the  wheel  over 

(It  is  proper  to  say  that  authorities  are  not  agreed  as  to  the  difference 
between  the  charuts,  the  agalah,  and  ihe-morag.  In  the  above  account  we 
have  endeavored,  ns  far  as  possible,  to  harmonize  the  conflicting  opinions  of 
various  expositors.) 

4.  The  last  mode  of  threshing  referred  to  in  the  text  is  that  of  treading 
out  the  grain,  for  an  explanation  of  which  see  note  on  Deut.  xxv,  4. 


266  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Isaiah. 


XXIX,  4.  Thy  voice  shall  be,  as  of  one  that  hath  a  familiar 
spirit,  out  of  the  ground,  and  thy  speech  shall  whisper  out  of 
the  dust. 

This  is  probably  an  allusion  to  the  notion  which  was  common  to  the 
ancient  heathen,  as  well  as  to  the  Hebrews,  that  the  souls  of  the  dead  had  a 
weak,  stridulous  sound,  entirely  different  from  the  voices  of  living  men.  The 
necromancers,  who  were  chiefly  women,  spoke  in  a  shrill,  feigned  voice,  and 
may  have  practiced  ventriloquism ;  in  which  case  the  voice  would  seem  to 
come  from  the  ground,  where  it  was  popularly  supposed  the  disembodied 
spirits  were.  See  also  Isa.  viii,  1 9. 

51O.— SOWING. 

XXXII,  20.  Blessed  are  ye  that  sow  beside  all  waters,  that 
send  forth  thither  the  feet  of  the  ox  and  the  ass. 

There  are  two  different  opinions  in  reference  to  what  customs  are  alluded 
to  in  this  verse.  Some  think  reference  is  made  to  the  fields  which  are  irri 
gated  by  artificial  means,  (see  note  on  i,  3,)  and  to  the  practice  of 
covering  the  seeds  by  plowing  instead  of  by  harrowing.  The  seed  is  sown 
in  the  irrigated  fields,  and  the  ox  and  the  ass  are  used  to  draw  the  plow  through 
the  soil.  Though  oxen  and  asses  were  used  for  plowing,  (see  Isa.  xxx,  20,) 
it  was  forbidden  to  plow  with  them  together.  See  Deut.  xxii,  10. 

Others  suppose  reference  to  be  made  to  the  method  of  planting  rice. 
Cliardin  says:  "They  sow  it  upon  the  water;  and  before  sowing  it,  and 
while  the  earth  is  covered  with  water,  they  cause  the  ground  to  be  trodden 
by  oxen,  horses,  and  asses,  who  go  mid-leg  deep,  and  this  is  the  way  of 
preparing  the  ground  for  sowing." — HARMER'S  Observations,  vol.  i,  p.  477. 


XXXIV,  4.  All  the  host  of  heaven  shall  be  dissolved,  and  the 
heavens  shall  be  rolled  together  as  a  scroll. 

Parchment  broks  were  rolled  around  a  stick  or  cylinder,  and,  if  very  long, 
around  two  cylinders,  from  the  two  extremities.  There  is  in  the  public 
library  at  Cambridge.  England,  an  ancient  manuscript  roll  of  the  Pentateuch. 
It  is  made  of  goats'  skins  dyed  red,  and  measures  forty-eight  feet  in  length 
by  about  twenty-two  inches  in  breadth.  As  the  book  of  Leviticus  and  a 
part  of  Deuteronomy  are  wanting,  it  is  calculated  that  the  original  length 
could  not  have  been  far  from  ninety  feet.  It  consists  of  thirty-seven  differ 
ent  skins,  and  contains  one  hundred  and  seventeen  different  columns  of 
writing.  These  columns  correspond  to  the  pages  of  our  books,  are  each 




about  four  inches  wide,  and  contain  from  forty  to  fifty  lines  apiece.  Th's 
manuscript  is  undoubtedly  very  ancient,  though  its  date  cannot  now  be 
ascertained.  It  was  obtained  by  the  Rev.  Dr. 
Buchanan  from  the  black  Jews  in  Malabar. 

The  celebrated  Samaritan  Pentateuch  is  the 
oldest  manuscript  of  which  we  nave  any 
knowledge.  It  consists  of  twenty-one  skins 
of  unequal  size,  most  of  which  contain  six, 
but  some  only  five,  columns.  The  columns 
are  thirteen  inches  deep  and  seven  and  a 
half  wide.  Each  contains  from  seventy  to 
seventy-two  lines,  and  the  entire  roll  has  one 
hundred  and  ten  columns. 

Ancient  rolls  were  sometimes  encased  in  a 
cover,  which  was  more  or  less  ornamented, 
and  on  which  the  title  was  sometimes  written. 
This  case  corresponded  to  the  envelopes  in 
which  their  letters  were  put.  See  note  on 
Neh.  vi.  5.  Some  commentators  think  that  this  outside  cover,  with  i  s  title, 
is  what  is  referred  to  in  Psa.  xl,  7  :  "In  the  volume  of  the  book  it  is  written 
of  me."  Others  suppose  that  reference  is  made  in  that  text  to  a  small  strip 
of  parchment  which  was  attached  to  each  roll,  and  contained  the  title,  so 
that  the  nature  of  the  contents  could  be  ascertained  without  the  trouble  of 

"When  the  manuscript  was  used  the  reader  unrolled  it  until  he  found  the 
place,  and  when  he  had  finished  reading  he  rolled  it  up  again.  This  is 
what  is  meant  by  opening  and  closing  the  book  in  Luke  iv,  17,  20. 

This  style  of  book  is  often  referred  to  in  the  Bible.  See  Ezra  vi,  1,  2 ; 
Jer.  xxxvi,  2,  23,  29;  Ezek.  ii.  9;  iii,  1,  2  ;  Zech.  v,  1,  2  ;  2  Tim.  iv,  13,  and 
probably  Rev.  v,  1,  etc.,  though  some  commentators  tlvnk  that  a  book  of 
leaves  is  there  meant. 



XXXVII,  29.  Because  thy  rage  against  me,  and  thy  tumult,  is 
come  up  into  mine  ears,  therefore  will  I  put  my  hook  in 
thy  nose,  and  my  bridle  in  thy  lips. 

Allusion  is  here  made  to  the  custom  of  inserting  a  ring  in  the  nose  of  a 
refractory  animal  for  the  purpose  of  subduing  and  leading  him.  The  meta 
phor  is  a  favorite  one  with  the  Arabian  poets.  The  language  used  here, 
however,  is  not  altogether  metaphorical  in  its  reference  to  human  beings. 
In  the  sculptures  taken  from  Khorsabad  there  are  representations  of  prisoners 
brought  before  the  king,  each  prisoner  having  an  iron  ring  thrust  through 




his  lower  lip.     To   these   rings  cords  are  attached,  which  the  king  holds  in 
his  left  hand,  while  in  his  right  he  holds  a  s?  e  r.  which  he  thrust-  into  the 


eyes  of  the  poor  prisoners.     See  note  on  2  Kings  xxv,  7.     See  also  2  Kings 
xix,  28 ;  Ezek.  xxix,  4 ;  xxxviii,  4. 

XL,  3,  4.  The  voice  of  him  that  crieth  in  the  wilderness,  Pre 
pare  ye  the  way  of  the  Lord,  make  straight  in  the  desert  a 
highway  for  our  God.  Every  valley  shall  be  exalted,  and 
every  mountain  and  hill  shall  be  made  low  :  and  the  crook 
ed  shall  be  made  straight,  and  the  rough  places  plain. 

Roads  of  some  kind  must  have  existed  in  former  times  in  Palestine,  though 
nothing  worthy  of  the  name  is  to  be  found  there  to-day.  The  use  of  chariots, 
and  the  opening  and  preservation  of  the  way  to  the  Cities  of  Refuge,  and 
such  expressions  as  are  found  in  this  text,  seem  to  imply  a  knowledge  and  a 
use  of  artificial  roads. 

It  has  been  the  custom  from  ancient  times  for  Oriental  monarchs,  when 
wishing  to  travel  through  their  dominions,  to  send  men  before  them  to  pre 
pare  their  way,  by  removing  stones,  (see  Isa.  Ixii,  10,)  leveling  rough  places, 
filling  up  hollows,  and  making  the  road  pleasant  and  easy  for  the  distin 
guished  travelers.  Semiramis,  on  one  of  her  journeys,  coming  to  a  rough, 
mountainous  region,  ordered  the  hills  leveled  and  the  hollows  filled,  which 
was  done  at  an  enormous  cost.  Her  object  was  not  only  to  shorten  the 
way,  but  to  leave  to  posterity  a  lasting  monument  of  herself.  There  have 
been  modern  instances  of  a  similar  character,  though  not  involving  so  much 
labor  and  expense. 

In  Matt,  iii,  3,  Mark  i,  3,  Luke  iii,  4,  John  i,  23,  this  passage  is  appliec 
to  John  the  Baptist,  who,  as  a  herald,  (see  note  on  1  Cor.  ix,  27.)  preceded 
the  Messiah  to  announce  his  coming  and  to  have  the  way  prepared. 

Isaiah.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  269 

51 4.— LAM  P-W ICKS. 

XLII,  3.  A  bruised  reed,  shall  he  not  break,  and  the  smoking 
flax  shall  he  not  quench. 

Lamp-wicks  were  made  of  linen,  aud  the  allusion  is  to  a  wick  that  is 
burning  with  feeble  flame  from  absence  of  oil,  and  just  ready  to  expire.  The 
readiness  with  which  the  light  of  such  a  wick  can  be  put  out  is  referred  to 
in  Isa.  xliii,  17,  "They  are  quenched  as  tow;  "  where pishtah,  "tow,"  is  the 
same  word  that  is  rendered  "flax"  in  the  text. 

515.— A  BATH  BY  POURING. 

XLIV,  3.  I  will  pour  water  upon  him  that  is  thirsty,  and 
floods  upon  the  dry  ground. 

Roberts  thinks  there  is  an  allusion  here  to  one  mode  of  bathing  practiced 
by  Orientals,  which  is  to  have  water  poured  on  the  body  by  an  attendant. 
The  Egyptian  monuments  give  evidence  that  this  mode  was  practiced  in 


XLIV,  10.  "Who  hath  formed  a  god,  or  molten  a  graven  image 
that  is  profitable  for  nothing  ? 

1.  The  term  "molten"  does  not  necessarily  mean  that  the  image  was  cast 
of  solid  metal.    Such  may  sometimes  have  been  made,  especially  ot  small  size ; 
but  the  metallic  part  of  idols  was  usually  a  thin  plating  of  metal  on  a  wooden 
image.     See  note  on  Exod.  xxxii,  4.     Thus  the  carpenter  and  the  goldsmith 
worked  together.     See  Isa.  xl,  19,  '20 ;  xli,  7  ;  Jer.  x,  3,  4. 

2.  The  work  of  the  carpenter  was  to  take  the  rude  log  and  fashion  it  into 
an  image  ready  to  receive  the  metallic  plates.     This  is  aptly  described  in  the 
thirteenth  verse  of  this  chapter:  "The  carpenter  stretcheth  out  his  rule ;  he 
marketh  it  out  with  a  line;  he  fitteth  it  with  planes,  and  he  marketh  it  out 
with  the  compass,  and  maketh  it  after  the  figure  of  a  man,  according  to  the 
beauty  of  a  man;  that  it  may  remain  in  the  house."     The  figure  was  first 
marked  on  the  log  with  a  chalk  line,   and  then  cut  and  carved  with  the 
proper  tools  until  it  assumed  the  shape  and  size  required.     Denon,  in  his 
Travels  in  Eyypt,  (cited  by  BURDER,  Oriental  Customs,  No.  720,)  speaks  of  an 
idol  which  he  found  "on  one  of  the  columns  of  the  portico  of  Tentyra  ;  it 
was  covered  with  stucco  and  painted.     The  stucco  being  partly  scaled  off, 
gave  me  the  opportunity  of  discovering  lines  traced  as  if  with  red  chalk. 
Curiosity  prompted  me  to  take  away  the  whole  of  the  stucco,  and  I  found 
the  form  of  the  figure  sketched,  with  corrections  of  the  outline ;  a  division 
into  twenty-two  parts:  the  separation  of  the  thighs  being  in  the  middle  of 
the  whole  height  of  the  figure,  and  the  head  comprising  rather  less  than  a 
seventh  part." 

17  4 


It  was  after  some  such  plan,  probably,  that  idols  were  made  iu  the  time  of 
Isaiah.  The  wooden  image,  once  made,  could  be  worshiped  as  it  was,  or  it 
could  be  covered  with  plaster  or  with  metal.  On  the  other  hand,  the 
metallic  outside  might  not  always  have  had  an  interior  of  wood,  but  may 
sometimes  have  been  filled  with  clay,  as  idols  in  India  are  at  this  day. 

517.— EYES  SEALED. 

XLIV,  18.  He  hath  shut  their  eyes  that  they  cannot  see,  and 
their  hearts  that  they  cannot  understand. 

The  margin  has  "  daubed  "  instead  of  shut,  and  thus  comes  nearer  to  the 
original,  tacJi,  from  tuach,  which  Gesenius  defines  "  to  spread  over,  to  daub, 
to  .besmear,  to  plaster.1'  The  words  convey  ihe  idea  of  something  smeared 
over  the  eyes  to  close  them.  Harmer  suggests,  as  an  explanation  of  the 
expression,  a  reference  to  a  custom  followed  in  the  East  Indies.  The  Great 
Mogul  once  sealed  up  his  son's  eyes  for  three  years  as  a  punishment,  and 
at  the  expiration  of  that  time  removed  the  seal.  This  is  given  on  the  au 
thority  of  Sir  Thomas  Roe's  chaplain,  who  does  not  tell  us,  however,  what 
was  put  upon  the  eyes  to  produce  this  result.  Dr.  Russell  tells  of  a  Jewish 
wedding  in  Aleppo,  where  the  eyelids  of  the  bride  were  fastened  together 
with  gum,  and  only  the  bridegroom  was  to  open  them.  It  is  possible  that 
in  Isaiah's  day  there  was  some  mode  of  causing  temporary  blindness  by 
smearing  the  eyes,  and  that  this  is  referred  to  in  the  text. 

518.— NEBO. 
XLVI,  1.    Bel  boweth   down,   Nebo  stoopeth. 

Ntbo  was  the  last  in  order  of  the  planetary  gods  of  the  Chaldeans,  and 
was  also  worshiped  by  the  Babylonians  and  the  Assyrians,  and  by  the 
Snbi  ins  in  Arabia.  He  is  supposed  to  have  been  of  Babylonian  origin.  "He 
corresponds  to  the  Latin  Mercury,  the  Greek  Hermes,  and  the  Egyptian 
Thoth.  The  name  is  supposed  to  be  derived  from  nabah,  to  prophesy,  and 
the  office  of  this  deity  was  that  of  interpreter  for  the  gods.  His  symbol 
was  a  simple  wedge  or  arrow-head.  The  same  word  (Tir)  among  the 
ancient  Persians  signified  both  "  arrow-head  "  and  the  name  of  the  planet 
nearest  the  sun,  Mercury.  The  popularity  of  this  god  is  seen  in  the  com 
bination  of  his  name  with  the  names  of  ancient  kings:  for  example,  Nebu- 
diadnezzar,  Are&wzaradan,  JVe&whashban,  JVoionedus,  JVc/fconassar,  Nabunaims, 
Ara/'onabus,  JVaftopolassar. 

In  the  British  Museum  are  statues  of  Nebo  which  were  taken  from  Nim- 
rud.  Thuy  are  partially  covered  with  cuneiform  inscriptions.  There  is  also 
in  the  same  Museum  a  block  of  black  basalt,  which  was  found  at  Hillah  in 
18G2.  It  has  on  it  an  inscription  of  six  hundred  and  twenty  lines,  divided 




.nt.o  ten  columns.  In  this  inscription  reference  is  made  by  Nebuchadnezzar, 
its  author,  to  the  god  Nebo,  in  which,  among  other  thing*,  he  says:  "  Nebo, 
the  guardian  of  the  hosts  of  heaven  and  earth,  has 
committed  to  me  the  scepter  of  justice  to  govern 

The  expressions,  "boweth  down"  and  •'  stoopeth," 
evidently  refer  to  the  downfall  of  these  idols,  and  of 
the  system  of  idolatry  of  which  they  were  the  symbols. 
According  to  the  prophecy  this  was  to  be  accom 
plished  by  the  Persian  power.  It  is,  therefore,  proper 
to  remark  here,  that  though  the  Persians  worshiped 
the  sun,  the  moon,  the  earth,  etc.,  images  of  gods  were 
entirely  unknown  among  them.  Herodotus  says  of 
them,  "They  have  no  images  of  the  gods,  no  tem 
ple's  nor  altars,  and  consider  the  use  of  them  a  sign  of 
folly." — Book  i,  chap.  131.  Thus  it  was  in  perfect 
accordance  with  their  own  customs  that  the  Persians 
should  destroy  the  graven  images  of  other  nations. 
To  Cyrus  the  Persian  monarch,  is  assigned,  in  chapter 
xlv,  1,  this  work  of  destruction.  So  utterly  helpless 
are  Nebo  and  Bel,  that  they  cannot  deliver  themselves 
from  captivity,  and  so  worthless  that  they  are  counted 
only  as  "a  burden  to  the  weary  beast." 

An  account  of  Bel  is  given  in  the  note  on  Jer.  1,  2. 


XLYI,  7.  They  bear  him  upon  the  shoulder,  they  carry  him, 
and  set  him  in  his  place,  and  he  standeth. 

It  is  precisely  in  this  way  that  the  Hindoos  of  the  present  day.  according 
to  Ward,  carry  their  idols  in  procession  and  set  tlxcm  in  the  temples.  There 
is  an  As-Syrian  marble  which  lias  on  it,  in  bas-relief,  a  representation  of  a 
procession,  in  which  four  idols  are  carried  on  the  shoulders  of  men. 

107.— NKKO.     FKO.M 




XLVII,  13.  Let  now  the  astrologers,  the  star-gazers,  the  monthly 
prognostieators,  stand  up,  and  save  thee  from  these  things  that 
shall  come  upon  thee. 

Efforts  to  foretell  future  events  by  watching  the  motions  of  the  heavenly 
bodies  are  very  ancient.  The  ancient  Babylonians  and  Chaldeans  were 
especially  celebrated  for  their  attempts  in  this  direction.  See  Dan.  ii,  2.  In 
Chaldea  the  astrologers  formed  a  particular  caste,  in 'which  the  knowledge 
acquired  was  transmitted  from  father  to  son.  They  taught  that  the  universe 

272  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Isaiah. 

was  eternal,  that  a  divine  providence  ruled  over  it,  and  tVat  the  movements 
of  the  heavenly  bodies  were  directed  according  to  the  council  of  the  gods. 
Their  long  observation  had  made  them  more  competent  than  other  men  to 
calculate  the  movements  and  influence  of  the  stars.  From  the  rising  and 
setting  of  the  planets,  their  orbits  and  color,  they  predicted  storms,  heat, 
rain,  comets,  eclipses,  and  earthquakes;  and  from  the  varied  appearances  of 
the  heavens  they  foretold  events  that  not  only  affected  lands  and  nations, 
but  also  brought  happiness  or  unhappiness  to  kings  and  common  people. 

To  assist  them  in  making  calculations  from  the  stars  the  astrologers 
divided  the  heavens,  visible  and  invisible,  into  twelve  equal  parts,  six  above 
the  horizon  and  six  below.  These  they  called  "houses,"  and  the  various 
subjects  which  affect  the  happiness  of  mankind,  such  as  fortune,  marriage, 
life,  death,  religion,  etc.,  were  distributed  among  them.  From  the  position 
of  the  stars  in  these  "houses  "  the  calculations  were  made.  The  two  words 
rendered  "astrologers"  in  the  text  literally  signify  "dividers  of  the 


XLIX,  16.  Behold,  I  have  graven  thee  upon  the  palms  of  my 
hands  ;  thy  walls  are  continually  before  me. 

This  is  a  figurative  way  of  expressing  that  Jehovah  will  never  forget  Zion. 
The  city  is  represented  as  graven  on  his  hands,  so  that  its  walls  are  per 
petually  in  his  sight,  and  thus  the  people  of  God,  who  are  figured  by  the 
city,  are  kept  in  everlasting  remembrance.  Roberts  says  that  a  similar 
form  of  speech  is  frequently  used  in  India  to  express  one's  destiny.  It  is 
common  to  say,  in  reference  to  men  or  things,  "They  are  written  on  the 
palms  of  his  hands."  Remembrance  of  an  absent  one  is  expressed  by  a 
figure  similar  to  the  one  used  in  the  latter  part  of  the  text :  "Ah,  my  friend, 
you  have  long  since  forgotten  me !  "  "Forgotten  you!  Never  I  for  your  walls 
are  ever  before  me." 

Many  writers,  however,  suppose  that  there  is  in  the  text  something  more 
than  an  allusion  to  a  mere  figure  of  speech ;  that  an  actual  custom  is  re 
ferred  to.  It  is  thought  that  the  Jews  of  that  day  were  in  the  habit  of  tattoo 
ing  on  their  hands  or  arms  representations  of  the  city  or  temple  in  order  to 
keep  before  them  something  to  remind  them  of  the  sacred  places.  This  is 
•  Bishop  Lowth's  view,  and  it  is  accepted  by  runny  commentators.  We  have 
an  illustration  of  it  in  modern  times.  Maundrell  tells  us  that  it  was  custom 
ary  in  his  day  for  pilgrims  to  Jerusalem  to  have  figures  of  various  kinds 
marked  on  their  arms  as  memorials  of  their  visit.  These  representations 
were  called  "ensigns  of  Jerusalem."  He  des  ribes  the  process  as  follows: 
"The  artists  who  undertake  fie  operation  do  it  in  this  manner:  they  have 
stamps  in  wood  of  any  figure  that  you  desire,  which  they  first  print  off 




upon  your  arm  with  powder  and  charcoal ;  then  taking  two  very  fine  needles 
tied  close  together,  and  dipping  them  often,  like  a  pen,  in  certa'n  ink,  com 
pounded,  as  I  was  informed,  of  gunpowder  and  ox-gall,  they  make  with 
them  small  punctures  all  along  the  lines  of  the  figure  they  have  printed ; 
and  then,  washing  the  part  in  wine,  conclude  the  work.  These  punctures 
they  make  with  great  quickness  and  dexterity,  and  with  scarce  any  smart, 
seldom  piercing  so  deep  as  to  draw  blood." — Journey  from  Aleppo  to  Jerusalem, 
under  date  of  March  27. 
See  also  notes  on  Lev.  xix,  28,  and  Gal.  vi,  17. 


XLIX,  22.  They  shall  bring  thy  sons  in  their  arms,  and  thy 
daughters  shall  be  carried  upon  their  shoulders. 

Two  modes  of  carrying  children  are  here  alluded  to.  though  there  is  no 
reason  to  suppose  that  either  was  exclusively  for  one  sex.  In  Dent, 
xxxiii,  12,  Benjamin  is  represented  as  occupying  the  position  here  assigned 
to  the  daughters. 

1.  "In  their  arms"  may  also  be  rendered  in  their  bosom,  as  it  is  in  the 
margin.     The  large  lap  or  pocket  made  by  the  folds  of  the  outer  garment 
(see  note  on  Luke  vi,  38)  was  a  convenient  and  comfortable  place  for  carry 
ing  a  child.     In  Num.  xi,  12,  it  is  intimated  that  it  was  customary  for  fathers 
to  carry  their  infants  in  this  manner  when  going  on  a  journey. 

2.  Another  Oriental  mode  of  carrying 
children  is   on  the  shoulders.     This    is 
sometimes  done  by  placing  them  astride 
the  neck.     Thus,  it  is  said  of  Benjamin, 
"  lie  shall  dwell  between  his  shoulders." 
Deut.   xxxiii,   12.      At  other  times   the 
child   is    placed    astride    one    shoulder, 
usually  the  left,   with  one  leg   hanging 
down  on  the  back  and  the  other  on  the 
breast.     In  either  case  the  child  steadies 
itself  by  putting   its   arms    around    the 
parent's  head,  and  by  clinging  with  its 

feet.      In  Egypt  women  are  often    seen  IOS.-CARRYING  CHILDREN. 

carrying  a  child  on  one  shoulder  and  a  jar  of  water  on  the  other. 
For  still  another  mode  of  carrying  children  see  note  on  Isa.  Ix,  4. 


LII,  2.  Shake  thyself  from  the  dust ;  arise,  and  sit  down,  O 

.Towott,  in  his  Christian  Researches,  refers  to  the  custom  of  Orientals  sit 
ting  on  the  ground  with  their  feet  drawn  under  them,  gradually  gathering 




dust  on  their  garments,  and  rising  occasionally  to  shake  it  off,  and  then 
resuming  their  seats.  This,  however,  is  only  a  partial  explanation  of  the 
allusions  of  the  text.  The  "dust"  referred  to  may  be  either  that  in  which 
Jerusalem  had  been  sitting,  or  that  which  she  had  put  upon  her  head.  In 
either  case  the  idea  of  mourning  would  be  represented.  The  mourner  is  ex 
horted  to  arise  from  the  dust  and  take  a  higher  position;  not  to  sit  down 
again  in  the  dust.  The  language  seems  to  embrace  the  idea  of  a  throne, 
a  high  seat.  Alexander  agrees  with  some  of  the  best  expositors  who  adopt 
the  interpretation  of  the  Targum,  Sit  upon  thy  throne.  From  this  Jerusalem 
is  supposed  to  have  been  previously  cast  down.  The  ground  was  to  be 
left,  the  dust  shaken  off.  and  the  throne  occupied.  The  mourning  was  to  be 
changed  for  rejoicing. 


LII,  10.    The  Lord  hath  made  bare  his  holy  arm  in  the  eyes  of 
all  the  nations. 

To  "  make  bare  the  arm  "  is  a  metaphorical  expression  denoting  preparation 

for  active  work,  especially  for 
war.  The  beauty  of  the  figure 
is  seen,  not  only  in  the  fact 
that  the  arm  is  an  appropriate 
emblem  of  power,  but  also  in 
the- additional  fact  that  the 
Oriental  costume  permits  the 
arm  to  be  bared  in  an  instant. 
Jowett  says  :  "  The  loose 
sleeve  of  the  Arab  shirt,  as 
well  as  of  the  outer  garment, 
leaves  the  arm  so  completely 
free,  that  in  an  instant  the 
left  hand,  passing  up  the  right 
arm,  bare;  and  this 
is  done  when  a  person,  a  sol 
dier,  for  example,  about  to 
strike  with  his  sword,  intends 
to  give  the  arm  full  play." — 
Christian  Researches,  etc.,  p. 

109—TiiK  ABM  MADB  BARE.  Reference  is  also  made  to 

this  baring  of  the  arm  in  Isa. 

liii,  1,  and  also  in  Ezek.  iv,  7.  Classic  writers  likewise  make  frequent  allu 
sion  to  it. 




LII,  15.    So  shall  he  sprinkle  many  nations. 

Most  commentators  suppose  the  figure  of  sprinkling  to  be  taken  from 
;he  ceremonial  sprinklings  of  the  Mosaic  law.  It  was  custom 
ary  to  sprinkle  blood  in  connection  with  different  sacrifices. 
See  notes  on  Exod.  xxiii,  15  ;  Lev.  vi,  9  ;  vi,  25  ;  vii,  1 ;  vii,  11 ; 
xvi,  34.  In  allusion  to  this  custom  the  prophet,  in  the  text, 
represents  the  Messiah  as  making  atonement  for  the  nations. 

Some  writers  think  there  is  an  allusion  to  the  custom  of  sprink 
ling  guests  at  feasts  with  perfumed  waters  from  a  silver  vessel 
(  f  vase-like  shape  and  with  a  perforated  top,  through  which  the 
fluid  is  thrown  on  the  faces  of  the  guests.  This  sprinkling  is 
sometimes  so  copious  as  to  cause  embarrassment.  Bruce,  after 
describing  an  interview  he  once  had  with  a  certain  dignitary, 
says:  "  Our  coffee  being  done,  I  rose  to  take  my  leave,  and 
was  presently  wet  to  the  skin  by  deluges  of  orange-flower 
water."  Niebuhr  relates  a  similar  instance:  ;'Tlie  first  time 
\ve  were  received  witli  all  the  Eastern  ceremonies,  (it  was  at 
Rosetto,  at  a  Greek  merchant's  house,)  there  was  one  of  our 
company  who  was  excessively  surprised  when  a  domestic 
placed  himself  before  him  and  threw  water  over  him,  as  well 
on  his  face  as  over  his  clothes."  See  TAYLOR'S  Calmet;  Frag 
ments.  No.  XIV. 

Ti  e  engraving  represents  a  perfume-sprinkler  of  beautiful  form,  such  as 
is  used  in  some  parts  of  India. 


LV,  1.  Ho,  every  one  that  thirsteth,  come  ye  to  the  waters, 
and  he  that  hath  no  money;  come  ye,  buy,  and  eat;  yea, 
come,  buy  wine  and  milk  without  money  and  without  price. 

A  beautiful  illustration  of  the  customary  mode  of  addressing  purchasers 
in  the  East  is  given  by  Miss  Rogers,  who  thus  describes  her  walk  through 
one  of  the  streets  of  Jerusalem:  "The  shopkeepers  were  crying  to  the 
papserg-by,  'Ho.  every  one  that  hath  money,  let  him  come  and  buy!  Ho, 
such  a  one,  come  and  buy !  '  But  some  of  them  seemed  to  be  more  dis 
interested,  and  one  of  the  fruiterers,  offering  me  preserves  and  fruit,  said, 
•0  lady,  take  of  our  fruit  without  money  and  without  price ;  it  is  yours, 
take  all  that  you  will,'  and  he  would  gladly  have  laden  our  Icawas  with  the 
good  tilings  of  his  store  and  then  have  claimed  double  their  value." — Do 
mestic  Life  in  Palestine,  p.  49.  There  is  more  sincerity  in  the  Gospel  invita- 
tations  tl  an  in  those  of  the  traders. 

276  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Isaiah. 


LVII,  6.  Among  the  smooth  stones  of  the  stream  is  thy  por 
tion  ;  they,  they  are  thy  lot:  even  to  them  hast  thoia  poured 
a  drink-offering,  thou  hast  offered  a  meat-offering. 

The  worship  of  stone  pillars  is  a  practice  of  very  great  antiquity,  and  one 
to  which  many  nations  were  formerly  devoted.  Some  have  strangely  con 
founded  the  anointing  of  the  stone  at  Bethel  by  Jacob  with  this  super 
stitious  practice;  but  we  think  the  patriarch  can  be  freed  from  ihe  charge 
of  idolatry  on  that  occasion.  See  note  on  Gen.  xxviii,  18.  The  worsh  )>  of 
stones  is  referred  to  in  Dent,  vii,  5;  xii,  3,  and  in  many  passages  where  llin 
word  "images"  is  used.  It  is  very  probable  also  that  the  allusion  to  the 
"rock"  of  the  heathen  in  Deut.  xxxi',  31,  37,  is  a  reference  to  the  p.-tmo 
species  of  idolatry.  "  The  image  which  fell  down  from  Jupiter,"  and  which 
was  worshiped  by  the  Kphesians,  may  furnish  another  illustration.  See 
note  on  Acts  xix,  35. 

The  old  custom  was  to  anoint  the  stones  which  were  worshiped,  and  to 
present  offerings  to  them.  Clemens  Alexandrinus  speaks  of  a  superstitious 
man  as  "a  worshiper  of  every  shining  stone."  Arnobius,  who  lived  in  the 
fifth  century,  said,  after  his  conversion  to  Christianity,  that  when  he  was  a 
heathen  he  never  saw  an  oiled  stone  without  addressing  it  and  praviin;  to  it. 

There  are  many  monuments  of  this  ancient  idolatry  still  in  existence  ;  they 
are  especially  abundant  on  the  western  extremity  of  Europe,,  in  Cornwall,  and 
in  the  islands  and  promontories  from  the  Laud's  End  to  Caithness  and  the 
Orkneys.  In  fact,  evidences  of  this  worship  have  come  down  to  such  recent 
times  that  it  may  well  be  doubted  whether  this  species  of  idolatry  has  even 
yet  ceased  to  exist  in  Europe.  In  the  latter  part  of  the  seventeenth  century 
it  was  practiced  in  Lapland,  one  of  the  deities  of  Scandinavian  mythology 
"being  represented  by  a  stone.  In  the  early  part  of  the  following  eeimiry 
there  were  pillar-stones  held  in  great  veneration  among  the  inhabitants  of  the 
Western  Islands  of  Scotland.  One  of  these  stones  was  swathed  in  flannel. 
Another,  about  eight  feet  high  and  two  broad,  was  called  '•  the  bowing  stone/' 
because  the  people  bowed  before  it  in  reverence  and  gard  the  Lord's  prayer. 
Within  twenty  years  of  the  present  time  the  same  superstition  has  been 
known  to  exist  in  Ireland,  and  very  probably  is  to  be  found  there  still.  Tlio 
Earl  of  Roden,  in  hi*  Progress  of  the  Reformation  in  Ireland,  states  that  in  the 
Island  of  Inniskea,  off  the  coast  of  Mayo,  the  people  worship  a  stone  which 
is  wrapped  in  flannel.  Its  power  is  believed  to  he  immense.  The  people 
pray  to  it  in  time  of  sickness,  and  invoke  it  to  raise  a  storm  and  send  some 
hapless  vessel  a  wreck  on  their  barren  const  that  they  may  profit  by  the 
disaster!  See  an  article  in  Notes  and  Queries  for  February  7,  1852,  from  the 
pen  of  Sir  J.  Emerson  Tennent. 





LIX,  1.     Behold,  the  Lord's  hand  is  not  shortened,  that  it  ean- 
not  save. 

As  the  arm  is  an  emblem  of  power,  so  shortness  of  arm  signifies  dimin 
ished  power,  and  length  of  arm  an  increase.  Thus  it  is  said  that  Artax- 
erxes  Longimanus,  that  is,  the  Long- 
handed,  was  so  called,  not  because  of 
any  peculiarity  of  body,  but  because  of 
the  vast  extent  of  his  power.  There  is 
an  ancient  Egyptian  sculpture  in  which 
the  same  bold  figure  is  employed  as  the 
one  used  by  the  prophet  in  the  text. 
It  represents  Thannyras,  the  son  of 
Inarus,  whom  Artaxerxes  had  made 
Satrap  of  Egypt,  worshiping  the  sun  as 
his  god.  In  this  he  disregarded  the  re 
ligion  of  his  own  people,  and  adopted 
that  of  their  conquerors.  The  sun  is 
represented  as  sending  his  rays  down 
on  the  earth,  and  at  the  end  of  every 
ray  is  a  hand. 

See  also  Num.  xi,  23,  and  Isa.  1,  2. 

TUI-:  SUN. 


LX,  4.  Thy  sons  shall  come  from  far,  and  thy  daughters 
shall  be  nursed  at  thy  side. 

In  the  East,  children  are  not  only  carried  on  the  bosom  and  on  the 
shoulders,  (see  note  on  Isa.  xlix,  22,)  but  also  on  the  hip,  and  reference  is 
thought  to  be  made  to  this  custom  in  this  text  and  in  Isa.  Ixvi,  12.  Chardin 
saw  the  mothers  carrying  their  nursing  children  astride  upon  the  hip 
with  the  arm  around  the  body.  Other  travelers  have  noticed  the  same 


LX,  8.  Who  are  these  that  fly  as  a  cloud,  and  as  the  doves  to 
their  windows. 

Doves  have  always  been  favorite  birds  in  the  East.  In  Egypt,  Syria,  and 
Persia  there  are  cotes  built  for  their  special  accommodation.  In  the  text  the 
prophet  represents  the  success  of  Christianity  by  the  countless  Gentiles  who 
will  seek  admission  into  the  Church.  So  numerous  will  these  Gentiles  bo 
that  they  will  appear  like  a  cloud,  just  as  the  doves  appear  when  they  fly  to 
the  entrances  to  their  habitations.  The  figure  is  very  animated  and  beautiful, 




Some  of  the  dove  houses  are  quite  peculiar  in  their  construction.  Shaw 
represents  them  as  a  prominent  feature  in  Egyptian  villages.  They  are 
round,  tall,  and  narrow,  six  or  eight  being  grouped  together.  See  Travels, 
plnte  facing  p.  291. 

Morier  gives  an  interesting  account  of  the  pigeon  houses  of  Persia, 
which  are  erected  at  intervals  in  the  open  country  for  the  purpose  of  collect 
ing  the  dung  for  manure.  "  They  are  large  round  towers,  rather  broader  at 
the  bottom  than  the  top,  and  crowned  by  conical  spiracles  through  which 

the  pigeons  descend. 

*  ''•         '        :(*fiiS&-  Their  interior  resem 

bles  a  honeycomb 
pierced  with  a  thou 
sand  holes,  each  of 
_Xhich  forms  a  snug 
retreat  for  a  nest. 
More  care  appears  to 
have  been  bestowed 
upon  the  outside  than 
upon  that  of  the  gen 
erality  of  the  dwelling- 
houses,  for  they  are 
painted  and  ornament 
ed.  The  extraordina 
ry  flights  of  pigeons 
which  I  have  seen  alight  upon  one  of  these  buildings  afford  perhaps  a  good 
illustration  for  the  passage  in  Isa.  Ix,  8.  ...  Their  great  numbers  and  the 
compactness  of  their  mass  literally  look  like  a  cloud  at  a  distance,  and  ob 
scure  the  sun  in  their  passage." — Second  Journey,  etc.,  p.  140. 


531.— THE  OPEN  GATES. 

LX,  11.     Therefore  thy    gates    shall    be    open    continually ;    they 
shall  not  be  shut   day  nor  night. 

The  gates  of  walled  towns  are  shut  at  sundown,  or  shortly  after.  Trav 
elers  often  hasten  in  their  journey  when  they  see  the  sun  declining  and  the 
shadows  lengthen,  lest  the  day  expire  before  they  reach  the  city  gates.  It 
not  uncommonly  happens  that,  with  all  their  exertions,  they  are  too  late; 
they  are  then  compelled  to  spend  the  night  outside,  exposed  to  storms  and 
robbers.  The  prophet  represents  the  Church  of  Christ  with  her  gates  "open 
continually,"  in  marked  contrast  to  the  custom  with  which  Oriental  people 
are  familiar.  A  similar  illustration  is  given  by  John  in  his  beautiful 
description  of  the  New  Jerusalem:  "And  the  gates  of  it  shall  not  be  shut 
by  day:  for  there  shall  be  no  night  there,"  Rev.  xxi,  25. 

Isaiah.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.       •  279 


LXI,  8.  To  appoint  unto  them  that  mourn  in  Zion,  to  give 
unto  them  beauty  for  ashes,  the  oil  of  joy  for  mourning,  the 
garment  of  praise  for  the  spirit  of  heaviness. 

Peer,  "  beauty,"  is  the  same  word  that  is  rendered  "  bonnet.  "  in  Isa.  iii,  20, 
where  see  the  note.  The  prophet  wishes  to  show  the  contrast  between  the 
time  of  mourning  and  that  of  rejoicing.  The  mourner  sits  with  ashes  on  the 
head.  See  note  on  2  Sam.  xv,  32.  When  the  mourning  ceases  and  the  joy 
comes  the  ashes  are  taken  from  the  head,  and,  in  the  true  spirit  of  rejoicing, 
a  beautiful  diadem  is  placed  thereon  instead. 


LXI,  10.  As  a  bridegroom  deeketh  himself  with  ornaments, 
and  as  a  bride  adorneth  herself  with  her  jewels. 

At  Oriental  weddings  both  bride  and  bridegroom  are  adorned  with  a 
profusion  of  jewelry  of  every  kind.  If  too  poor  to  purchase  they  borrow 
from  neighbors  and  friends,  that  a  splendid  sliow  may  be  made.  See  also 
Eev.  xxi,  2. 


LXII,  10.  Go  through,  go  through  the  gates  ;  prepare  ye  the 
way  of  the  people ;  east  up,  cast  up  the  highway. 

We  have  here  an  illustration  of  the  Oriental  style  of  repetition  in  language, 
of  which  there  are  several  other  instances  in  this  book.  Thus,  in  chapter 
xxiv,  19,  20,  we  read  in  our  version,  "The  earth  ig  utterly  broken  down,  the 
earth  is  clean  dissolved,  the  earth  is  moved  exceedingly.  The  earth  shall 
reel  to  and  fro  like  a  drunkard."  This  is  more  literally  rendered  by  Alexan 
der,  "Broken,  broken  is  the  earth;  shattered,  shattered  is  the  earth;  shaken, 
shaken  is  the  earth.  The  earth  reels,  reels  like  a  drunken  man."  So  also 
in  chapter  xxvi,  3,  we  have,  "Thou  wilt  keep  him  in  perfect  peace."  The 
margin  gives  the  literal  translation,  "  Peace,  peace."  See  also  Jer.  xxii,  20 ; 
Ezek.  xxi,  27. 

This  is  not  exclusively  a  Hebrew  idiom.  Chardin  quotes  from  a  Persian 
letter  the  words,  "To  whom  I  wish  that  all  the  world  may  pay  homage," 
and  says  that  the  language  is  literally,  "that  all  souls  may  serve  his  name, 
his  name." 


LXV,  11.  But  ye  are  they  that  forsake  the  Lord,  that  forget 
my  holy  mountain,  that  prepare  a  table  for  that  troop,  and 
that  furnish  the  drink-offering  unto  that  number. 

For  "troop  "  and  "  that  number  "  the  margin  substitutes  the  original  words 
gad  and  meni.  The  precise  meaning  of  these  two  terms  is  a  matter  of 


280  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Izaiah. 

diversified  opinion.  Gesenius  defines  gad  to  be  the  g  )d  Fortune,  the  snrno 
as  Baal  or  Bel,  that  is,  the  planet  Jupiter,  which  was  regarded  throughout  the 
East  as  the  giver  of  good  fortune.  There  was  a  city  called  Baal-Gad  in  the 
valley  of  Lebanon  under  Mount  Eermon.  Gesenius  gives  to  meni  the  deft, 
nition  of  fate,  fortune,  destiny,  and  thinks  the  planet  Venus  was  intended. 
Venus  was  identical  with  Astarte,  and  was  regarded  by  the  ancient  Semitic 
nations  as  the  source  of  good  fortune,  and  as  such  was  coupled  with  the 
planet  Jupiter;  Jupiter  being  the  "Greater  Good  Fortune,"  and  Venus  the 
"Lesser  Good  Fortune."  Fuerstis  undecided  whether  gad  refers  to  Jupiter 
or  Venus  ;  he  supposes  meni  to  refer  to  the  moon,  and  that  both  were  deities 
who  were  supposed  to  control  fate. 

Many  interpreters  have  refused  to  render  the  two  words  as  names  of 
idols,  arid  have  "referred  the  whole  clause  either  to  convivial  assemblies, 
perhaps  connected  with  idolatrous  worship,  or  to  the  troop  of  plnnets  and 
the  multitude  of  stars,  as  objects  of  such  worship." — ALEXANDER,  Commen 
tary  in  loco. 

All,  however,  are  agreed  on  one  point,  that  the  whole  passage  has  refer 
ence  to  idolatrous  worship  of  some  sort;  the  "table"  and  the  "drink-offer 
ing"  give  evidence  of  that.  The  kind  of  offering  referred  to  is  supposed  to 
be  identical  with  the  ledisternia  of  the  Romans.  These  were  feasts  spread 
for  the  consumption  of  the  gods  on  occasions  of  extraordinary  solemnities. 
Images  of  the  gods  reclined  on  couches,  while  before  them  were  placed 
tables  rilled  with  viands,  as  if  the  gods  were  really  partaking  of  the  things 
offered  in  sacrifice.  The  custom  is  thought  to  have  been  of  Egyptian  origin, 
and  from  the  Egyptians  the  Hebrews  probably  learned  it.  Jerome  states 
that  in  every  city  in  Egypt,  and  especially  in  Alexandria,  they  were  in  the 
habit,  on  the  last  day  of  each  year,  of  covering  a  table  with  dishes  of  various 
kinds,  and  with  a  cup  tilled  with  a  liquor  made  of  water,  wine,  and  honey, 
either  in  acknowledgement  of  the  fertility  of  the  past  year,  or  to  implore 
fruitfulness  for  the  year  to  come. 

See  also  notes  on  Num.  xxii,  41,  and  1  Kings  xi,  5. 


536.— CISTERNS. 

II,  18.  They  have  forsaken  me  the  fountain  of  living  waters, 
and  hewed  them  out  cisterns,  broken  cisterns,  that  can  hold  no 

The  drynefes  of  the  summer  months  in  Palestine,  and  the  absence  of  large 
rivers,  together  with  the  scarcity  of  springs  in  many  places,  make  it  neces- 



.sir)-  to  collect  into  cisterns  the  rains  which  fall,  and  the  waters  which  fill 
i he  small  streams  in  the  rainy  season.  This  has  been  the  custom  in  that 
land  from  very  early  times.  These  cisterns  are  either  dug  in  the  earth  or 
cut  out  of  the  soft  limestone  rock,  and  are  of  several  kinds.  Sometimes  a 
shaft  is  sunk  like  a  well,  and  the  bottom  widened  into  the  shape  of  a  jug. 
Excavations  of  this  sort  combine  the  characters  of  cisterns  and  wells,  since 
they  not  only  receive  the  rain  which  is  conducted  into  them,  but  the  water 
which  percolates  through  the  limestone.  Another  kind  consists  of  chambers 
excavated  out  of  the  rock,  with  a  hole  in  the  roof.  Again,  an  excavation  is 
made  perpendicularly,  and  the  roof  arched  with  masonry.  Some  are  lined 
with  wood  or  cement,  while  others  are  left  in  their  natural  state. 

They  are  sometimes  entirely  open  at  the  top,  and  are  then  entered  by 
steps,  or,  in  the  case  of  large  ones,  (and  some  are  vtry  large,)  by  nights  of 
stairs.  Where  they  are  roofed,  a  circular  opening  with  a  curb  is  at  the  top, 
and  a  wheel,  with  a  rope  and  bu  -ket,  is  provided.  This  is  referred  to  in 
Keel,  xii,  6,  "The  wheel  broken  at  the  cistern."  Jerusalem  is  abundantly 
supplied  with  water  by  means  of  cisterns,  and  during  all  its  long  and  terrible 
sieges  has  never  suffered  for  want  of  a  supply. 

It  is  to  these  different  kinds  of  receptacles  for  water  that  the  prophet  refers 
in  the  text.  Though  with  proper  care  the  water  may  be  kept  sweet  for  a 
time,  it  is  often  in  a  filthy  condition,  not  to  be  compared  to  the  pure  water 
from  living  fountains,  and  at  any  time  the  cisterns  are  liable  to  become 
"broken,"  and  to  leak.  See  also  2  Kings  xviii,  31  ;  Isa.  xxxvi,  16. 

537.— HANDS  ON  THE  HEAD. 

11,37.  Thou  shalt  go  forth  from  him,  and  thine  hands  upon 
thine  head. 

This  is  an  Oriental  mode  of  expressing  great  grief,  and  is  thought  by  some 
|o  signify  that  the  heavy  hand  of  God's 
affliction  is  resting  on  the  mourner. 
This  was  one  of  the  tokens  of  mourn 
ing  adopted  by  Tamar  after  the  cruel 
maltreatment  she  received  from  Aomon. 
See  2  Sam.  xiii,  19.  There  is  in  the 
British  Museum  a  sculptured  slab  re 
presenting  Egyptian  mourners  at  a 
funeral,  with  their  hands  on  their  heads. 
According  to  Roberts,  this  is  a  common 
mode  of  expressing  grief  in  India. 
''When  people  are  in  great  distress 
they  put  their  hands  on  their  head,  the 
fingers  being  clasped  on  the  top  of  the 

113. — HANDS  ON  THE  HEAP. 





crown.     Should  a  man  who  is  plunged  into  wretchedness  meet  a  friend   he 
.mmediately  puts  his  hands  on  his  head  to  illustrate  his    circumstances 
When  a  person  hears  of  the  death  of  a  relation   or  friend  he  forthwith 
lasps  his  hands  and  places  them  on  his  head.     When  boys  have  been  pun 
ished  at  school,   they  run  home  with  their  hands  on  the  same  place."— 
Oriental  Illustrations,  p.  461. 
See  also  note  on  2  Sam.  xv.  32. 

is   consumed    of  the 

53§. -BELLOWS. 

VI,  29.    The  bellows  are  burned,  the   lead 

The  use  of  the  bellows  in  the  East  is  confined  now,  as  it  was  in  ancient 

limes,  to  the  workers  in  metals,  or 
dinary  fires  being  regulated  by  fans. 
The  ancient  lellows  consisted  of  a 
leathern  bag  in  a  wooden  frame, 
with  a  long  mouthpiece  of  reed 
tipped  with  metal  to  preserve  it 
from  the  action  of  the  fire.  The 
operator  stood  with  a  bellows  under 
each  foot.  In  each  hand,  attached 

to  the  instrument  under  foot,  was 

114.-E<;Y,T,AN  BELLOWS.  a    string>    by    w]lich    he  lifted    the 

bag  of  skin  when  it  became  exhausted  of  air  by  the  pressure  of  the  foot. 

VII,  34.    Then    will    I    cause   to    cease   from   the   cities   of  Judah 
and  from   the   streets  of  Jerusalem,   the  voice  of  mirth    and  the 
vo1Ce  of  gladness,    the    voice    of  the  bridegroom,  and  the  voice 
of  the  bride. 

Marriages  in  the  East  are  celebrated  by  processions  of  friends,  who  throng 
the  streets  and  give  noisy  demonstrations  of  their  joy.  Singers  and  musi0- 
cians  accompany  them,  and  the  shouts  and  music  are  heard  afar  off.  Miss 
Rogers  gives  a  lively  account  of  a  wedding  party  she  once  met  not  far  from 
Mount  Carmel.  "Pleasant  sounds  of  voices,  songs,  bells,  and  laughter 
reached  us,  and  we  saw  an  animated  little  party  approaching,  mounted  on 
camels,  whose  nodding  heads  and  necks  were  decorated  with  beads,  shells, 
crimson  tassels,  and 'strings  of  little  tinkling  bells."— Domestic  Life  L  Paks- 
tine,  p.  94. 

Among  the  Mohammedans  no  marriages  are  allowed  during  the  month  ui 
Ramadan,  which  is  their  solemn  annual  fast.  The  troubles  to  come  upon 
Judah  are  represented  in  the  text  by  the  prediction  of  utter  silence  in  the 
streets.  See  also  Jer.  xvi,  9;  xxv,  10;  xxxiii,  11 ;  Rev.  xviii,  23. 



IX,  2.  O  that  I  had.  in  the  wilderness  a  lodging-place  of  way 
faring  men  ;  that  I  might  leave  my  people,  and  go  from 
them  ! 

The  prophet  probably  refers  to  those  temporary  lodging-places  for  trav 
elers  in  the  open  country  which  private  charity  or  municipal  law  sometimes 
provides  in  the  East;  or  he  may  refer  to  the  temporary  hospitality  which  is 
considered  in  the  East  as  a  religious  duty  to  be  extended  toward  strangers. 
See  note  on  Job  xxxi,  1  7,  and  see  Jer.  xiv,  8.  His  idea  is  that  the  wilder 
ness  is  better  than  the  place  where  his  people  live,  and  the  hospitality  of 
strangers  preferable  to  the  society  of  hi?  wicked  friends.  Roberts  thinks 
there  may  here  be  reference  to  a  custom  lie  lias  noticed  in  India,  When  a 
man  becomes  angry  with  his  family  it  is  not,  uncommon  for  him  to  threaten 
to  leave  them  and  dwell  in  the  wilderness.  This  threat  is  not  always  empty 
sound;  for  there  are  many  in  every  town  and  village  who  thus  leave  their 
families  and  are  absent  for  months  or  years,  and  some  never  return.  The 
wilderness  hsis  many  ascetics,  who,  from  this  and  other  causes,  live  retired 
from  the  haunts  -of  men. 


IX,  17,  IS.  Thus  saith  the  Lord  of  hosts,  Consider  ye,  and  call 
for  the  mourning  women,  that  they  may  come:  and  send  for 
cunning  women,  that  they  may  come;  and  let  them  make 
haste,  and  take  up  a  wailing  for  us,  that  our  eyes  may  run 
down  with  tears,  and  our  eyelids  gush  out  with  waters. 

Not  only  are  great  lamentations  made  by  the  bereaved  for  their  loved  ones, 
but  professed  mourners,  usually  women,  are  hired  for  the  purpose.  They 
assemble  in  greater  or  less  number,  according  to  tie  ability  which  those 
who  hire  them  have  to  pay  for  their  services.  Their  hair  is  disheveled, 
their  clothes  torn,  and  their  countenances  daubed  with  paint  and  dirt.  They 
sing  in  a  sort  of  chorus,  mingled  with  shrill  screams  and  loud  wailing,  dis 
torting  their  limbs  frightfully,  swaying  their  bodies  to  and  fro,  and  moving 
in  a  kind  of  melancholy  dance  to  the  thrumming  music  of  tambourines.  They 
recount  the  virtues  of  the  deceased,  calling  him  by  names  of  tendorest 
endearment,  and  plaintively  inquiring  of  him  why  he  left  his  family  and 
friends!  With  wonderful  ingenuity  these  hired  mourners  seek  to  make  a 
genuine  lamentation  among  the  visitors  who  have  come  to  the  funeral,  by 
alluding  to  any  among  them  who  have  suffered  bereavement,  dwelling  on 
its  character  and  circumstances,  and  thus  eliciting  from  the  sorrowing  ones 
cries  of  real  grief. 

Miss  Rogers  gives  a  thrilling  account  of  a  formal  mourning  which  lasted 
for  a  week,  and  at  which  she  was  present  for  several  hours.  Three  rows  of 


284  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [Jeremian. 

women  on  the  one  side  of  the  room  faced  three  rows  on  the  other  side. 
They  clapped  their  hands  and  struck  their  breasts  in  time  to  the  monotonous 
melody  they  murmured.  One  side,  led  by  a  celebrated  professional  mourner, 
sang  the  praises  of  the  dead  man,  while  the  other  responded  in  chorus. 
After  the  singing  they  shrieked  and  made  a  rattling  noise  in  their  throats, 
while  the  widow  kneeled,  swayed  her  body  backward  and  forward,  and 
feebly  joined  in  the  wild  cry. 

"A  minstrel  woman  began  slowly  beating  a  tambourine,  and  all  the  com 
pany  clapped  their  hands  in  measure  with  it,  singing,  'Alas  for  him!  Alas 
for  him  !  He  was  brave,  he  was  good  ;  alas  for  him! '  Then  three  women 
rose,  with  naked  swords  in  their  hands,  and  stood  at  two  or  three  yards 
distance  from  each  other.  They  began  dancing  with  slow  and  graceful 
movements,  with  their  swords  at  first  held  low  and  their  heads  drooping. 
Each  dancer  kept  within  a  circle  of  about  a  yard  in  diameter.  By  degrees 
the  tambourine  and  the  clapping  of  the  hands  and  the  songs  grew  louder, 
the  steps  of  the  dancers  were  quickened.  They  threw  back  their  heads  and 
gazed  upward  passionately,  as  if  they  would  look  into  the  very  heavens. 
They  nourished  their  uplifted  swords,  and  as  their  movements  became  more 
wild  and  excited,  the  bright  steel  flashed,  and  bright  eyes  seemed  to  grow 
brighter.  As  one  by  one  the  dancers  sank,  overcome  with  fatigue,  others 
rose  to  replace  them.  Thus  passed  seven  days -and  nights.  Professional 
mourners  were  in  constant  attendance  to  keep  up  the  excitement,  and  dances 
and  dirges  succeeded  each  other,  with  intervals  of  wild  and  hysterical  weep 
ing  and  shrieking." — Domestic  Life  in  Palestine,  pp.  181,  182. 

Shaw  says  that  the  hired  mourners  at  Moorish  funerals  cry  out  in  a  deep 
and  hollow  voice,  several  times  together,  Loo !  loo!  loo!  ending  each  period 
with  "  some  ventriloquous  sighs."  See  Travels,  etc.,  p.  242. 

To  this  singular  custom  of  hiring  mourners  the  prophet  refers  in  the 
text,  and  also  in  the  twentieth  verse.  These  hired  mourners  were  present 
at  the  burial  of  the  good  king  Josiah.  2  Chron.  xxxv,  25.  Solomon  refers 
to  them  in  Eccl.  xii,  5 :  "  The  mourners  go  about  the  streets."  Amos  speaks 
of  "such  as  are  skillful  oflamentatton."  Amos  v,  16.  Hired  mourners  were 
present  with  their  instruments  of  funeral  music  at  the  house  of  Jairus  after 
the  death  of  his  daughter.  See  Matt,  ix,  23  ;  Mark  v,  38. 

See  also  note  on  2  Sam.  xix,  4. 

542.— ADZE. 

X,  8.  For  one  eutteth  a  tree  out  of  the  forest,  the  work  of  the 
hands  of  the  workman,  with  the  axe. 

MoMsad,  "  ax,"  is  thought  to  have  been  a  light  kind  of  hewing  instru 
ment,  similar  to  an  adze,  used  for  fashioning  or  carving  wood  into  shape.  It 
is  rendered  "tongs"  in  Isa.  xliv,  12. 





XVII,  13.  All  that  forsake  thee  shall  be  ashamed,  and.  they 
that  depart  from  me  shall  be  written  in  the  earth. 

Some  commentators  suppose  a  reference  is  here  made  to  names  written 
on  earth  in  opposition  to  names  written  in  heaven;  others  think  the  refer 
ence  is  to  words  written  in  the  dust  in  contrast  to  words  engraven  in  tho 
rock.  As  the  former  are  easily  obliterated  and  forgotten,  so  will  be  the  fate 
of  those  who  depart  from  the  Lord. 

We  have  no  direct  evidence  that  writing  in  the  dust  was  actually  practiced 
in  the  clays  of  Jeremiah.  The  figure  used  in  the  text  might  readily  suggest 
itself  aside  from  any  custom.  It  may  not  be  inappropriate,  however,  to 
observe  that  this  mode  of  writing  has  been  practiced  in  some  schools  in  the 
East.  Banner  says  that  Peter  della  Valle  noticed  a  simple  way  of  "  writing 
short-lived  memorandums  in  India,  where  he  beheld  children  writing  their 
lessons  with  their  fingers  on  the  ground,  the  pavement  being  for  that  pur 
pose  strewed  all  over  with  very  fine  sand.  When  the  pavement  was  full 
they  put  the  writings  out;  and,  if  need  were,  strewed  new  sand  from  a 
little  heap  they  had  before  them  wherewith  to  write  farther." — Observations, 
vol.  iii,  p.  128,  note. 

The  text  brings  to  mind  what  is  said  of  Jesus  when  the  adulterous 
woman  was  brought  into  his  presence  in  the  temple.  He  "  stooped  down, 
and  with  his  finger  wrote  on  the  ground."  John  viii,  6,  8. 

544.— THE  POTTER. 

XVIII,  3.    Then  I  went  down  to  the  potter's  house,  and,  behold, 
he    wrought  a  work  on  the  wheels. 

The  potter's  art  has  been  practiced  from 
very  ancient  times.  The  Egyptian  monu 
ments  give  evidence  that  it  was  known  in 
Egypt  before  the  entrance  of  the  Hebrews 
into  that  country.  Some  expositors  have 
inferred  from  Psa.  Ixxxi,  6,  that  the  Israel 
ites,  when  in  bondage,  were  employed  in 
pottery  as  well  as  in  briekraaking  :  "  I  re 
moved  his  shoulder  from  the  burden;  his 
hands  were  delivered  from  the  pots." 
Others,  however,  give  to  the  word  dud  the 
meaning  of  "  basket,"  and  make  it  refer  to 
the  baskets  which  were  used  by  the  brick- 
makers  for  carrying  clay.  US—EGYPTIAN  POTTEES. 

IS  4 

286  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Jeremiah. 

The  clay  was  first  trodden  with  the  feet  by  the  potter,  (Tsa.  xli,  25,)  and 
when  it  became  of  the  proper  consistency  it  was  put  on  the  "  wheels.'' 
These  were  originally  of  stone,  and  two  in  number,  one  above  the  other,  like 
a  pair  of  millstones;  the  lower  one  immovable,  and  the  upper  revolving  on 
an  axis  and  turned  by  the  potter  by  means  of  a  treadle,  and  sometimes  by 
the  hands  of  an  attendant.  In  after  times  the  wheels  were  made  of  wood. 
The  softened  clay  was  put  upon  the  upper  wheel,  and  fashioned  by  the 
potter's  hand  to  any  shape  desired. 


XIX,  1.  Thus  saith  the  Lord,  Go  and  get  a  potter's  earthen 

It  is  evident  from  this  and  other  passages  that  it  is  a  mistake  to  suppose 
that  all  Eastern  bottles  were  made  of  skin.  Ancient  bottles  of  earthenwaie 
of  various  shapes  are  to  be  found  in  the  museums,  and  are  often  depicted  on 
the  monuments.  In  1  Kings  xiv,  3,  bakbuk,  here  rendered  bottle,  is  spoktn 
of  as  a  "cruse  "  in  which  honey  was  kept. 


XIX,  10.    Then  shalt    thou    break    the    bottle  in   the    sight  of  the 
men    that  go  with  thee. 

This  action,  so  symbolical  of  utter  destruction,  is  still  used  in  the  East  to 
denote  the  same  thing.  Dr.  Thomson  says,  "The  people  of  this  country 
have  the  same  custom  of  breaking  a  jar  when  they  wish  to  express  their 
utmost  detestation  of  any  one.  They  come  behind  or  near  him  and  smash 
the  jar  to  atoms,  thus  imprecating  upon  him  and  his  a  like  hopeless  ruin."— 
The  Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  ii,  p.  497. 


XX,  15.   Cursed  be  the  man  who  brought  tidings  to   my  father, 
saying,     A     man-child    is     born    unto    thee  ;     making    him   very 

The  birth  of  a  son  is,  in  the  East,  considered  a  cause  of  special  congratula 
tion  to  the  father.  Its  announcement  makes  him  "  very  glad."  In  Persia 
it  is  associated  with  particular  ceremonies.  Morier  says,  "  Some  confidential 
servant  about  the  harem  is  usually  the  first  to  get  the  information,  when  he 
runs  in  great  haste  to  his  master,  and  says,  '  Mvjdelt,'1  or  'Good  news,'  by 
which  he  secures  to  himself  a  gift,  which  generally  follows  the  Mujdeh. 
Among  the  common  people,  the  man  who  brings  the  Mujdeh  frequently 
seizes  on  the  cap  or  shawl,  or  any  such  article  belonging  to  the  father,  as  a 
security  for  the  present,  to  which  he  holds  himself  entitled."— Second  Jour 
ney,  etc.,  p.  103. 




54§.—  CEILINGS. 

XXII,  14.  That  saith,  I  will  build,  me  a  wide  house  and  large 
chambers,  and  eutteth  him  out  windows  ;  and  it  is  ceiled. 
with  cedar,  and  painted  with  vermilion. 

The  interiors  of  Oriental  houses  of  the  better  class  are  often  of  a  splendid 
character.  The  ceilings,  panels, 
and  doors  are  richly  painted  and 
gilded.  Special  pains  are  taken 
to  ornament  the  ceilings.  Taste 
ful  interlaced  patterns  are  used, 
often  painted  in  brilliant  colors  ; 
red,  blue,  gold,  and  green,  being 
the  favorites. 

The  prophet  represents  here 
the  general  luxuriance  of  the 
people,  and  the  dishonesty  which 
sometimes  accompanied  it.  See 
verse  13.  In  another  prophecy 
we  read:  "  Is  it  time  for  you,  0 
ye,  to  dwell  in  your  ceiled  houses, 
and  this  house  lie  waste  ?  "  Hag- 
gai  i,  4. 



XXXI,  19.     Surely    after    that    I    was    turned,    I    repented ;     and 
after  that  I  was  instructed,   I  smote  upon  my  thigh. 

This  was  one  method  by  which  the  Jews  expressed  deep  sorrow  in  time 
of  mourning.  Ezekiel  was  commanded  to  act  in  a  similar  manner  as  a  sig 
nificant  mode  of  expressing  the  sorrow  that  was  to  come  on-  rebellious 
Israel.  See  Ezek.  xxi,  12.  The  Greeks  and  Persians  had  a  similar  custom, 
and  it  is  practiced  in  some  parts  of  the  East  at  the  present  day. 


XXXII,  14.   Take  these  evidences,  this  evidence  of  the  purchase, 
both    which     is    sealed,    and    this     evidence     which     is    open; 
and    put   them   in   an    earthen    vessel,  that   they   may  continue 
many   days. 

It  is  supposed  that  one  of  these  documents  was  a  duplicate  of  the  other; 
and  it  may  have  been  customary  to  carefully  seal  .one  copy  and  deposit  it  in 
a  safe  place,  perhaps  to  bury  it  on  a  part  of  the  land  described  in  it,  while 
the  other  was  left  unsealed  in  some  public  place  designated  for  the  pnrDose, 

288  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Jeremiah. 

where  all  persons  interested  might  have  access  to  it  whenever  they  desired. 
Inasmuch,  however,  as  the  city  was  to  be  destroyed,  the  prophet  was 
directed  to  have  both  copies  put  into  an  earthen  vessel  for  preservation. 

In  Taylor's  Calmet  it  is  suggested  that  the  earthen  vessel  containing  these 
documents  was  to  be  buried  in  one  corner  of  the  land  purchased,  as  a  sort 
of  hidden  landmark  of  the  property ;  and  as  a  possible  illustration  the  fol 
lowing  passage  is  cited  from  the  Geutoo  laws  of  boundaries  and  limits: 
"  Dust,  or  bonds,  or  seboos,  (bran,)  or  cinders,  or  scraps  of  earthenware,  or 
the  hairs  of  a  cow's  tail,  or  the  i-eed  of  the  cotton-plant:  all  these  things 
above-mentioned,  being  put  into  an  earthen  jar  filled  to  the  brim,  a  man 
must  privately  bury  upon  the  confines  of  his  own  boundary  ;  and  there 
preserve  stones  also,  or  bricks,  or  sea-sand:  either  of  these  three  things 
may  be  buried  by  way  of  Landmark  of  the  limits;  for  all  these  things,  upon 
remaining  a  long  time  in  the  ground,  are  not  liable  to  rot,'  or  to  become 
putrid;  any  other  thing,  also,  which  will  remain  a  long  time  in  the  ground 
without  becoming  rotten  or  putrid,  may  be  buried  for  the  same  purpose. 
Those  persons  who,  by  any  of  these  methods,  can  show  the  line  of  their 
boundaries,  shall  acquaint  their  sons  with  the  respective  Landmarks  of 
those  boundaries ;  and,  in  the  same  manner,  those  sons  shall  explain  the 
signs  of  the  limits  to  their  children." — Fragments,  No.  LXXX.  TAYLOR'S 
Calmet,  vol.  iii,  p.  138. 


XXXIV,  18.    \Vhen  they   cut  the  calf  in    twain,  and.   passed   be 
tween  the  parts  thereof. 

This  was  a  very  ancient  method  of  making  a  covenant.  The  two  con 
tracting  parties  slaughtered  a  victim,  cut  the  body  in  two,  and  passed 
between  the  severed  parts.  Some  writers  hold  that  the  design  was  to  ex 
press  a  wish  that,  if  the  covenant  should  be  broken,  the  same  fate  might 
befall  the-  party  violating  it  which  had  befallen  the  slain  beast.  Others 
think  that  it  was  intended  to  represent,  that  as  the  two  divided  parts 
belonged  to  one  animal,  so  the  two  parties  making  the  covenant  were 
of  one  mind  so  far  as  the  subject  of  the  covenant  was  concerned.  It  is 
thought  probable  that  the  latter  was  the  original  design  of  the  custom,  and 
that  the  former  notion  was  added  to  the  meaning  subsequently,  or  substi 
tuted  for  it  when  the  original  intention  was  forgotten.  This  old  custom  is 
referred  to  in  the  very  expression  which  was  used  by  the  Hebrews  to 
represent  the  making  of  a  covenant.  The  phrase  "  make  a  covenant," 
which  is  so  often  used  in  the  Old  Testament,  is  literally,  "to  cut  a  covenant," 
(karath  leritli.) 

This  ceremony  was  used  when  Jehovah  made  a  covenant  with  Abram. 
See  Gen.  xv,  10,  17.  "Ephraem  Syrus  observes,  that  God  condescended  to 

Jeremiah.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  289 

follow  the  custom  of  the  Chaldeans,  that  he  might  5n  the  most  solemn  man 
ner  confirm  his  oath  to  Abram  the  Chaldean." — KEIL  and  DELITZSCH,  Com. 
on  Gen.  xv,  7-11.  The  custom  was  widespread  among  ancient  nations,  and  is 
often  referred  to  by  classical  writers.  There  are  traces  of  it  even  in  modern 
times.  Pitts,  after  narrating  some  of  the  superstitious  customs  of  the 
Algerine  pirates  when  a  storm  overtakes  them  at  sea,  continues:  "If  they 
find  no  succor  from  their  before-mentioned  rites  and  superstitions,  but  that 
the  danger  rather  increases,  then  they  go  to  sacrificing  of  a  sheep,  (or  two 
or  three  upon  occasion,  as  they  think  needful,)  which  is  done  after  this  man 
ner:  having  cut  off  the  head  with  a  knife,  they  immediately  take  out  the 
entrails,  and  throw  them  and  the  head  overboard;  and  then  with  all  the 
speed  they  can  (without  skinning)  they  cut  the  body  into  two  parts  by  the 
middle,  and  throw  one  p^rt  over  the  right  side  of  the  ship  and  the  other 
over  the  left,  into  the  sea,  as  a  kind  of  propitiation." — Religion  and  Manners 
of  the  Mahometans,  chap.  ii. 

552.— INK. 

XXXVI,  18.  He  pronounced  all  these  words  unto  me  with  his 
mouth,  and  I  wrote  them  with  ink  in  the  book. 

1.  The  ink  of  the  ancients  was  usually  composed  of  lampblack,  soot,  or 
pulverized  charcoa',  prepared  with  gum  and  water.     Tt  was  sold  in  small  par 
ticles  or.grains.     When  needed  for  use  some  of  the  grains  were  put  into  the 
inkhorn,  (see  note  on  Kzek.  ix,  2,)  and  mixed  with  water  until  the  mixture 
became  of  the  consistence  of  our  modern  printer's  ink.     It  was  of  an  intense 
glossy  black,  retaining  its  color  for  ages,  yet  easily  obliterated  with  sponge 
and  water.     This  is  thought  to  be  referred  to  in  Num.  v,  23,  and  Col.  ii,  14. 
The  ink  still  used  in  the  East  is  mostly  of  this  character. 

Ink  is  also  mentioned  in  2  Cor.  iii,  3  ;  2  John  12,  and  3  John  13. 

2.  For  a  description  of  books,  see  note  on  Job  xix,  23,  24. 

553.— THE  HEARTH. 

XXXVI,  22.  The  king  sat  in  the  winter  house  in  th  2  ninth 
month,  and  there  was  a  fire  on  the  hearth  burning  bsfore 

Ach,  "  hearth,''  is  a  portable  furnace  or  stove.  The  rooms  of  Oriental 
houses  are  sometimes  warmed  at  the  present  day  by  means  of  such  pots  or 
furnaces.  "They  have  the  form  of  a  large  pitcher,  and  are  placed  in  a 
cavity  sunk  in  the  middle  of  the  apartment.  "When  the  fire  has  burnt  down, 
a  frame  like  a  table  is  placed  over  the  pot,  and  the  whole  is  then  covered 
with  a  carpet;  and  those  who  wish  to  warm  themselves  sit  upon  the  floor 
and  thrust  their  feet  and  legs,  and  even  the  lower  part  of  their  bodies,  under 
the  carpet." — ROBIXSON'S  Gescnius 


290  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Jeremiah 


XLI,  8.  We  have  treasures  in  the  field,  of  wheat,  and  of 
barley,  and  of  oil,  and  of  honey. 

1.  It  is  a  very  ancient  custom  in  many  parts  of  the  East  to  store  grain  in 
Inrge  pits  or  cisterns,  dug  in  the  ground  for  the  purpose.     In  Syria  these 
cisterns  are  sealed  at  the  top  with  plaster,  and  covered  with  a  deep  bed  of 
earth  to  keep  out  vermin.     They  are  cool  and  dry  and  light.     Among  the 
Moors  the  custom  is  to  have  a  thick  layer  of  straw  on  the  bottom  and  a 
lining  of  straw  on  the  sides.     They  cover  the  mouth  with  a  stone,  and  some 
times  build  over  it  a  small  pyramid  of  earth  to  shed  the  rain.     Very  often, 
however,  after  closing  the  mouth,  they  cover  the  place  with  sod  so  skillfully 
that  none  but  the  initiated  can  tell  where  the  pit  is.     Shaw  says  thnt  in 
Barbary  there  are  sometimes  two  or  three  hundred  of  these  grain-pits  to 
gether,  the  smallest  of  them  holding  four  hundred  bushels. 

Burder  (Oriental  Literature,  No.  621)  gives  a  quotation  from  Chenier,  a 
French  traveler,  who  says  that  among  the  Moors  the  fathers  of  wealthy 
families  fill  a  granary  of  tin's  kind  at  the  birth  of  every  child,  and  empty  it 
when  the  child  becomes  an  adult  and  is  married.  He  knew  of  corn  which 
had  been  kept  in  such  pits  for  twenty-five  years  and  was  still  fit  for  use, 
though  it  had  lost  its  whiteness. 

These  are  doubtles  <  he  kind  of  places  referred  to  in  the  text,  where  the 
treasures  of  wheat  were  kept.  David  also  had  "storehouses  in  the  field." 
1  Chron.  xxvii,  25.  Besides  these  subterranean  granaries  there  were  al«o 
barns.  See  note  on  Gen.  xli,  48. 

2.  In  like  manner  oil  is  sometimes  kept  in  jars  buried  in  the  ground;  and 
jars  of  honey  might  easily  be  kept  in  a  similar  manner.     The  ten   men  re 
ferred  to  in  the  text  who  sought  to  purchase  their  lives  of  Ishmael,  had  con 
cealed  their  treasures  in  the  field  so  that  no  one  should  rob  them. 

Some  suppose  that  the  "  cellars  of  oil  "  belonging  to  David  were  merely 
places  where  oil  jars  were  buried.  See  1  Chron.  xxvii,  28. 

Other  treasures  besides  those  mentioned  in  the  text  are  frequently  buried 
in  the  East.  See  note  on  Matt,  xiii,  44. 


XLVI,  4.    Furbish  the  spears  and  put  on  the  brigandines. 

1.  Romach  is  rendered  "spear"  in  Judges  v,  8,  and  in  several  other  texts; 
"javelin,"  in  Num.  xxv,  7;  "buckler,"  in  1  Chron.  xii,  8;  (in  the  plural) 
"lancets,"  in  1  Kings  xviii,  28.  It  is  thought  to  have  been  a  spear  used  by 
heavy-armed  troops.  Colonel  Smith,  in  Kitto's  Cyclopaedia,  (s.  v.  "  Arm?.") 
says,  "Probably  the  shepherd  Hebrews,  like  nations  similarly  situated  i:i 

Jeremiah.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  291 

northern  Africa,  anciently  made  use  of  the  horn  of  an  oryx,  or  a  leucoryx, 
above  three  feet  long,  straightened  in  water,  and  sheathed  upon  a  thorn- 
wood  staff.  When  sharpened,  this  instrument  would  penetrate  the  hide  of 
a  bull,  and,  according  to  Strabo,  even  of  an  elephant ;  it  was  light,  very 
difficult  to  break,  resisted  the  blow  of  a  battle-ax,  and  the  animals  which 
furnished  it  were  abundant  in  Arabia  and  in  the  desert  east  of  Palestine. 
At  a  later  period  the  head  was  of  brass,  and  afterward  of  iron."  These 
horn  spears  were  probably  the  original  type  from  which  the  various  kinds 
of  spears  were  subsequently  produced.  Precisely  how  the  romach  differed 
from  the  other  heavy  spear,  the  chanith,  (see  note  on  1  Sain.  xvii.  7,)  we 
cannot  say. 

2.  Siryon  ("  brigandine :'  in  the  text,  and  in  Jer.  li,  3)  was  a  coat  of 
scale  armor ;  the  same  as  shirycn,  which  is  rendered  "  coat  of  mail "  in 
1  Sam.  xvii,  5,  where  see  the  note. 

556. -HEAVY  AXES. 

XL VI.  22.  They  shall  march  with  an  army  and  come  against 
her  with  axes  as  hewers  of  wood. 

Kardom  was  a  name  given  to  an  axe  which  peerns  to  have  been  used 
especially  for  cutting  down  trees,  and  is  thought  to  have  had  a  heavier  head 
than  other  axes.  It  is  mentioned  in  Judges  ix,  48;  1  Sam.  xiii,  20,  and  Psa. 
Ixxiv,  5. 

557.—THE  GOD  AMMON. 

XLVI,  25.  Behold,  I  will  punish  the  multitude  of  No,  and 
Pharaoh,  and  Egypt,  with  their  gods,  and  their  kings. 

The  most  of  commentators  now  agree  that  amon,  here  rendered  -'multi 
tude,"  should  be  taken  as  a  proper  name,  and  left  untranslated.  The  original 
is  amon  minno,  "  Amon  of  No."  By  No  is  undoubtedly  meant  the  celebrated 
Egyptian  city  of  Thebes,  which  was  situated  on  both  sides  of  the  Nile,  and 
was  noted  for  its  hundred  gates  of  brass,  its  numerous  and  splendid  temples, 
obelisks,  and  statues.  Amon  was  the  name  of  an  Egyptian  deity,  and  probably 
of  a  Libyan  nnd  Ethiopian  god,  whose  worship  had  its  seat  in  Thebes,  where 
was  an  oracle  of  the  deity;  for  which  reason  the  name  of  the  city  was  joined  to 
that  of  the  god.  This  is  to  be  noticed  riot  only  in  this  text,  but  also  in  Nahurn 
Hi,  8,  where  for  the  "  populous  No"  of  our  version  the  original  has  No  Amon. 
The  Greeks  likened  this  god  to  Zeus,  and  the  Romans  called  him  Jupiter 
Ammon  or  Hamrnon.  He  appears  to  have  been  a  personification  of  the  sun, 
and  is  thought  to  have  corresponded  to  Baal  of  the  Phenicians.  The 
ancient  Egyptian. name  is  said  to  have  been  Amen.  On  the  monuments  it  is 
written  Amn  or  Amn-Re,  Amon  the  Sun. 

It  was  formerly  supposed,  and  is  still  commonly  asserted,  that  this  god 





117.— AMON. 

was  represented  under  the  figure  of  a  human  form  with  a  ram's  head.    This, 
however,  has  of  late  been  denied.     Fairbairn  says  :  "  It  was  the  god  Neph, 

sometimes  written  Kneph,  and  by  the 
Greeks  C/moubis,  who  was  so  represented, 
and  the  proper  seat  of  whose  worship  was 
not  Thebes,  but  Meroe,  and  who  also  had 
a  famous  oracle  in  the  Lybian  desert.  The 
Amon  of  Thebes,  '  king  of  gods  '  as  he  was 
called,  always  had  the  form  simply  of  a 
man  assigned  him,  and  .in  one  of  the 
characters  under  which  he  was  worshiped 
appears  to  have  been  virtually  identified 
with  the  sun,  and  in  another  with  the 
Egyptian  Pan." — Imperial  Bible  Diction 

Wilkinson  says,  "  The  figure  of  Amun 
was  that  of  a  man,  with  a  head-dress  sur 
mounted  by  two  long  feathers;  the  color 
of  his  body  was  light  blue,  like  the  Indian 
Vishnoo,  as  if  to  indicate  his  peculiarly 
exalted  and  heavenly  nature ;  but  he  was  not  figured  with  the  head  or 
under  the  form  of  a  ram,  as  the  Greeks  and  Romans  supposed." — Manners 
and  Customs  of  the  Ancient  Egyptians,  vol.  iv,  p.  246. 


XL  V  IT  I,  11.  Moab  hath  been  at  ease  from  his  youth,  and  he 
hath  settled  on  his  lees,  and  hath  not  been  emptied  from 
vessel  to  vessel,  neither  hath  he  gone  into  captivity :  there 
fore  his  taste  remaineth  in  him,  and  his  scent  is  not  changed. 

It  is  customary  to  pour  wine  from  one  vessel  to  another  to  improve  its 
quality.  Chardin  saj's:  "They  frequently  pour  wine  from  vessel  to  vessel  in 
the;  for  when  they  begin  one,  they  are  obliged  immediately  to  empty  it 
into  smaller  vessels,  or  into  bottles,  or  it  would  grow  sour." — HARMKK'S 
Observations,  vol.  ii,  p.  155.  Dr.  Clarke,  in  a  note  on  the  same  page,  adds: 
"From  the  jars  (says  Dr.  Russell.  MS.  note)  in  which  the  wine  ferments  it 
is  drawn  off  into  demyans,  which  contain  peihaps  twenty  quart  bottles,  and 
from  those  into  bottles  for  use ;  but  as  tl  ese  bottles  are  generally  not  well 
washed,  the  wine  is  often  sour.  The  more  careful  use  pint  bottles,  or  half- 
pint  bottles,  and  cover  the  surface  with  a  little  sweet  oil." 

A  similar  allusion  to  the  pouring  of  wine  from  the  lees  is  made  in  Isa. 
xxv,  6,  where  see  the  note.  See  also  Zeph.  i.  12,  where,  as  in  this  text, 
being  "on  the  Ices"  is  figuratively  used  to  express  a  sinful  rest.  Jeremiah 
carries  the  figure  of  the  text  into  the  following  verse.  wl:ere,  instead  of 

Jeremiah.]  15IBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  293 

41  wanderers,"  mnny  commentators  render  tsaim  by  the  word  (:tilters."  ".I 
will  send  unto  him  filters,  who  shall  tilt  him  up."  The  act  of  pouring  the 
wine  off  the  lees  from  one  vessel  to  another  is  thus  represented. 

559.— BEL. 

L,  2.  Babylon  is  taken,  Bel  is  confounded,  Merodaeh  is 
broken  in  pieces;  her  idols  are  confounded,  her  images  are 
broken  in  pieces. 

1.  Bel  was  the  principal  god  of  the  Babylonians,  and  the  third  in  rank 
among  the  Assyrians.     The  name  is  generally  supposed  to  be  the  Chaldaic 
form  of  Baal,  though  this  is  -disputed  by  some.     For  an   account  of  Baal- 
worship  see  note  on  Num.  xxii,  41.     In  addition  to  what  is  there  stated,  we 
may  remark  that  the  sacrifices  offered  to  Bel  consisted  of  adult  cattle  and 
their  sucklings,  together  with   incense.      The   horned   cap,    so   frequently 
observed  in  Assyrian  monuments,  is  supposed  to  have  been  the  symbol  of 
this  god.     Bel  is  also  mentioned  in  Isa.  xlvi,  1,  and  Jer.  li,  44. 

2.  The  origin  and  meaning  of  the  name  Merodaeh  are  doubtful.     Instead 
of  being 'a  separate  deity  from  Bel,  he  is  supposed  to  be  identical;    the 
name  being  originally  a  descriptive  epithet  of  Bel,  which  gradually  became 
recognized  as  one  of  the  names  of  that   deity.     On  the  monuments  he  is 
known  as  Bel  Merodaeh.     "Nebuchadnezzar  calls  him   'the  king  of  the 
heavens  and  the  earth,'  'the  great  lord,'  'the  senior  of  the  gods,'  'the  most 
ancient,'  'the  supporter  of  sovereignty,'  'the  layer  up  of  treasures,'  etc., 
and  ascribes  to  him  all  his  glory  and  successes." — RAWLIXSON'S  Five  Great 
Monarchies,  vol.  i,  p.  135. 


L,  15.  She  hath  given  her  hand,  her  foundations  are  fallen, 
her  walls  are  thrown  down. 

This  is  a  beautiful  Orientalism  denoting  submission,  and  probably  has 
some  relation  to  the  custom  of  giving  the  hand  in  pledge  of  a  covenant.  See 
note  on  Prov.  xi,  21.  There  are  several  texts  where  the  expression  is  used: 
"  We  have  given  the  hand  to  the  p]gyptians.  and  to  the  Assyrians  to  be  satis 
fied  with  bread."  Lam.  v,  6.  When  Hezekiah  sent  throughout  all  Israel 
and  Judah  his  proclamation  for  a  passover,  he  said  to  the  people,  among 
other  things,  "yield  yourselves  to  the  Lord."  2  Chron.  xxx,  8.  This  is 
literally,  "give  the  hand  to  Jehovah."  At  the  beginning  of  Solomon's 
reign  it  is  said :  "  And  all  the  princes,  and  the  mighty  men,  and  all  the  sous 
likewise  of  king  David,  submitted  themselves  unto  Solomon  the  king." 
1  Chron.  xxix,  24.  This  is  literally,  "gave  the  hand  under  Solomon." 

This  identical  form  is  said  by  Roberts  to  be  used  in  India  at  the  present 
lime.  When  two  have  quarreled,  and  one  makes  acknowledgment,  he  is 





said  to  ''put  his  hand  under/'     The  same  is  said  when  a  rebellious  eon 
submits  to  his  father.     The  expression  is  not  altogether  figurative.     When 


one  submits  to  a  superior  he  stoops,  and  moves  his  hands  to  the  ground, 
saying,  "  I  submit,  my  lord.''  Hence  the  appropriateness  of  the  language 


LI,  20.  Thou  art  my  battle-ax  and  weapons  of  war  :  for 
with  thee  will  I  break  in  pieces  the  nations,  and  with  thee 
will  I  destroy  kingdoms. 

Mappets,  "battle-ax,"  is  defined  by  Gesenius  to  be  "a  mallet,  a  maul,  a 
war-club;  "  and  he  makes  it  identical  with  mephits,  which  in  Prov.  xxv,  18, 
is  rendered  "  maul."  Others,  however, 
think  that  a  heavy  bladed  instrument  is 
meant.  The  Egyptian  battle-ax  was  from 
two  to  two  and  a  half  feet  in  length,  with 
a  single  blade,  which  was  secured  to  the 
handle  by  bronze  pins,  while  the  handle  in 
that  part  was  bound  with  thongs  to  keep 
the  wood  from  splitting.  The  soldier  on  a 
march  either  held  it  in  his  hand,  or  hung  it 
on  his  back  with  the  blade  downward. 
The  f-hape  of  the  blade  was  the  segment 
of  a  circle,  divided  at  the  back  into  two 
smaller  segments  whose  points  were  fast 
ened  by  the  pins  already  named.  The 

319.— EOYPTIA 

Jeremiah.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  295 

blade  was  made  either  of  bronze  or  of  steel.  Another  kind  of  battle-ax  was 
about  three  feet  in  length,  and  had  a  large  metal  ball  at  the  end,  to  which 
the  blade  was  fixed.  Either  of  these  weapons  was  terrible,  from  the  com 
bination  of  weight  with  sharpness. 

While  the  Persians  often  used  the  battle-ax  it  was  rarely  used  by  the 
Assyrians,  though  it  is  sometimes  represented  on  the  monuments.  These 
weapons  seem  to  have  had  short  handles  and  large  heads,  and  to  have  been 
wielded  with  one  hand.  Some  of  them  had  two  heads,  like  the  Upennis  of 
the  Romans  and  the  labra  of  the  Lydians  and  Carians.  The  Chaldeans  and 
Babylonians  also  made  use  of  battle-axes.  One  belonging  to  the  former  is 
represented  on  an  ancient  clay  tablet  as  having  the  blade  of  the  ax 
balanced  by  three  heavy  spikes  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  handle. 



V,  12.    Princes  are  hanged,  up   by  their  hand. 

By  whose  hand  the  princes  were  hung  up  has  been  a  matter  of  discussion 
among  commentators.  Some  suppose  that  the  text  means  they  hung  them 
selves  ;  others  that  they  were  hung  by  the  hand  of  their  enemies ;  others 
still  that  they  were  suspended  by  the  hand,  and  in  this  helpless  condition 
left  to  perish.  In  support  of  this  last  interpretation  we  give  a  statement  by 
Roberts:  "No  punishment  is  more  common  thnn  this  in  the  East,  especially 
for  slaves  and  refractory  children.  Has  a  master  an  obstinate  slave?  has 
he  committed  some  great  offense  with  his  hands  ?  several  men  are  called, 
who  tie  the  offender's  hands  and  hoist  him  to  the  roof,  till  he  beg  for  forgive 
ness.  School-boys  who  are  in  the  habit  of  playing  truant  are  also  thus 
punished.  To  tell  a  man  that  you  will  hang  him  by  the  hands  is  extremely 
provoking." — Oriental  Customs,  p.  142. 

If  this  custom  was  practiced  in  the  time  of  Jeremiah  we  can  see  how 
great  an  indignity  was  put  upon  the  princes  when  they  were  punished  aftor 
the  manner  of  slaves. 



II,  10.  He  spread  it  before  me  ;  and  it  was  written  within  and 
without:  and  there  was  written  therein  lamentations,  and 
mourning,  and  woe. 

The  manuscript  rolls  were  usually  written  only  on  one  side,  though  some 
times  botli  sides  were  used.  This  was  the  case  with  the  roll  which  Ezekiel 

4  ' 




saw.  So  numerous  were  the  troubles  which  were  to  come  upon  ihe  children 
of  Israel  that  the  roll  which  contained  an  account  of  them  was  completely 
filled,  it  being  necessary  to  write  on  both  sides.  Something  like  this  is 
thought  to  be  meant  in  Rev.  v,  1.  See  note  on  Tsa.  xxxiv,  4. 


IV,  1.    Thou  also,  son   of  man,   take   thee  a  tile,  and  lay    it    be 
fore  thee,  and  portray  upon   it   the  city,   even  Jerusalem. 

Assyrian  and  Babjdonian  records  were  kept,  not  only  on  sculptured  slabs 
of  stone,  but  also  on  pottery.  There  were  "  cylinders,"  as  they  are  called, 
some  barrel-shaped,  and  some  hexagonal  or  octagonal.  These  were  made  of 
very  fine,  thin,  and  strong  terra-cotta,  and  were  hollow.  They  were  from  a 
foot  and  a  half  to  three  feet  in  height,  and  were  closely  covered  with  cunei 
form  writing,  which  was  often  in  such  small  characters  as  to  require  the  aid 
of  a  magnifying  glass  to  decipher  it.  These  cylinders  were  placed  at  the 
corners  of  the  temples,  where  many  of  them  have  been  discovered  They 
were  written  in  columns,  and  contain  histories  of  the  monarchs  who 
when  the  temples  were  built. 


In  addition  to  these,  clay  tablets  of  various  sizes  were  used,  from  nine 
inches  by  six  and  a  half  to  one  inch  by  one  and  a  half.  These  were 
sometimes  entirely  covered  with  writing  and  pictorial  representations.  It 




was  on  such  a  tile  that  Ezekiel  was  directed  to  make  a  represention  of 

When  the  clay  was  in  a  soft,  moist  state,  in  its  mold  or  frame  the  charac 
ters  were  put  upon  it,  perhaps  in  some  instances  by  a  stamp,  but  usually  by 
means  of  a  sharp  edged  bronze  style  about  a  foot  long,  by  means  of  which 
each  character  was  traced  separately  by  hand,  just  as  we  use  a  pen.  After 
the  completion  of  the  writing  or  pictures  the  clay  was  baked,  and  such  was 
the  perfection  of  the  manufacture  that  many  of  these  articles  have  been  pre 
served  from  decay  for  three  thousand  years. 

They  vary  in  color,  owing,  as  some  suppose,  to  the  varying  length  of  time 
they  were  in  the  kiln,  while  others  think  that  some  coloring  matter  must 
have  been  mixed  with  the  clay.  They  are  bright  brown,  pale  yellow,  pink, 
red,  and  a  very  dark  tint  nearly  black.  Usually  the  cylinders  found  are  of 
a  pale  yellow,  and  the  tablets  a  light  red  or  pink.  Some  of  them  are  un- 
glazed,  and  others  are  coated  with  a  hard  white  enamel. 


IV,  2.  And  lay  siege  against  it,  and.  build  a  fort  against  it, 
and  east  a  mound  against  it;  set  the  camp  also  against  it,  and 
set  battering- rams  against  it  round  about. 

Several  important  operations  in  ancient  sieges  are  here  noticed : 

1.  The  "  mount  "  was  an  inclined  plane  which  the  besiegers  of  a  castle  or 

a  walled  town  built  up  to  the  walls  so  that  they  could  bring  their  engines  of 

war  closer,  and  work  them  to  greater  advantage.     The  mount  was  made  of 

all  sorts  of  materials,  earth,   timber,  boughs,   and  stones,  the  sides  being 

walled  up  with  brick  or 

stone,  and  the  inclined 

top  made   of  layers  of 

brick  or  stone,   forming 

a  paved  road  up  which 

the   war  engines  might 

be    drawn.       Some    of 

these    engines    are    de 
scribed  in   the    note  on 

2   Chronicles   xxvi,    15; 

another     is     mentioned 

below.      Mounts     were 

used  by  the  Assyrians, 

Babylonians.  Egyptians, 

Jews,  and   Greeks,  and 

are  often  referred  to  in 

the  Old  Testament  un 
der  the  name  of  "  banks  "  121.— ASSAULT  ox  A  CITY— ARTIFICIAL  MOUNT. 




or  "  bulwarks,"  as  well  as  "  mounts."  See,  among  other  passages,  Dent. 
xx.  20;  2  Sam.  xx,  15;  2  Kings  xix,  32;  Isa.  xxxvii,  33;  Jer.  vi,  6 ; 
xxxiii,  4;  Ezek.  xvii,  17. 

2.  Dayek,  "  fort,"  was  a  watch-tower.     Numbers  of  these  towers  were  set 
up   before   a  besieged  city,  for  the  purpose  of  watching  and  harassing  the 
inhabitants.     See  also  2  Kings  xxv,  1;  Jer.  lii,  4;  Ezek.  xvii,  17;  xxi,  22; 
xx  vi,  8. 

3.  The  battering-ram  is  supposed  to  have  been  first  used  by  the  Phenicians. 
It  consisted  of  a  heavy  beam  of  wood  strengthened  with  iron  plates,  and 
terminating  in  an  iron  head  made  like  that  of  a  ram.      Suspended  from  a 
wooden  frame-work  by  ropes  or  chains,  the  beam  was  swung  to  and  fro  by 
the  attacking  party,  and  was  struck  against  the  wall  with  repeated  blows 
until  a  breach  was  effected.     The  Assyrian  armies  were  abundantly  supplied 
with  similar  engines  of  war,  though  they  were  made  after  different  patterns. 
It  is  to  these  that  Ezekiel  refers  in  the  text.     "  Some  had  a  head  shaped  like 


the  point  of  a  spear ;  others,  one  more  resembling  the  end  of  a  blunderbuss. 
All  of  them  were  covered  with  a  frame-work,  which  was  of  ozier,  wood,  felt, 
or  skins,  for  the  better  protection  of  those  who  worked  the  implement;  but 
some  appear  to  have  been  stationary,  having  their  frame  resting  on  the 
ground  itself;  while  others  were  movable,  being  provided  with  wheels." — 
RAWLTNSON,  Five  Great  Monarchies,  vol.  i,  p.  470. 

To  oppose  the  ram  various  inflammable  substances,  such  as  tow,  were 
thrown  upon  the  light  frame- work,  setting  it  on  fire.  To  extinguish  this,  those 
who  worked  the  ram  carried  a  supply  of  water.  Again,  a  chain  was  let 
down  by  the  besieged,  and  the  end  of  the  ram  was  caught  in  it,  and  the 
force  of  the  blow  neutralized  by  drawing  the  ram  upward.  To  counteract 
this  some  of  the  besieging  party  were  stationed  below  the  ram,  and  provided 
with  strong  hooks  which  they  caught  in  the  descending  chains,  hanging  on 
them  with  all  their  weight. 

Battering-rams  were  frequently  used  against  walls  from  the  ground,  at 

Ezekiel.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  299 

the  foot,  but  sometimes  were  drawn  to  the  top  of  mounds  such  as  have 
been  just  described.  The}'  are  referred  to,  in  addition  to  the  text,  in 
Ezek.  xxi,  22,  and  probably  in  Ezek.  xxvi,  9,  under  the  name  "  engines  of 
\var.;)  There  may  also  be  a  reference  to  them  in  2  Sam.  xx,  15. 


VIII,  10.  So  I  went  in  and.  saw  ;  and.  behold  every  form  of 
creeping  things,  and  abominable  beasts,  and  all  the  idols  of 
the  house  of  Israel,  portrayed  upon  the  wall  round  about. 

The  vivid  description  of  what  the  prophet  saw  in  his  vision,  as  recorded 
in  this  remarkable  chapter,  is  doubtless  an  ideal  representation.  The  im- 
agerv  employed,  however,  is  taken  from  scenes  in  actual  life,  and  could  find 
its  realization  in  the  temples  of  ancient  Egypt,  where  the  Israelites  learned 
many  of  their  idolatrous  practices.  The  tombs  of  Egypt,  which  are  now  ex 
posed  to  the  view  of  the  traveler,  have  painted  on  them,  in  colors  that  are 
still  bright,  representations  of  various  animals,  and  also  of  the  gods. 
Whether  or  not  these  tombs  were  ever  used  as  places  of  worship  is  a 
disputed  point.  Their  painted  walls,  however,  cannot  but  suggest  the 
'•chambers  of  imagery"  mentioned  by  the  prophet.  See  verse  12.  The 
walls  of  their  temples  were  in  a  similar  way  adorned  with  pictorial  represen 
tations  of  the  animals  and  gods  which  they  worshiped. 

In  like  manner  were  the  temples  of  other  ancient  nations  ornamented. 
In  the  temple  of  Belus  were  sculptured  representations  of  men  with  two 
wings,  and  others  with  four;  some  having  two  faces,  others  the  legs  and 
horns  of  goats,  or  the  hoofs  of  horses.  There  were  bulls  also  with  the  heads 
of  men,  and  horses  with  the  heads  of  dogs.  It  was  doubtless  similar 
monstrosities,  and  other  figures  too  revolting  for  description,  which  Ezekiel 

567.— TAMMUZ. 

VIII,  14.  He  brought  me  to  the  door  of  the  gate  of  the  Lord's 
house  which  was  toward  the  north  ;  and,  behold,  there  sat 
women  weeping  for  Tammuz. 

Notwithstanding  the  numerous  and  ingenious  conjectures  of  various  critics, 
nothing  is  positively  known  concerning:  the  origin  and  meaning  of  this  word. 
The  opinion  commonly  received  by  commentators  is  that  Tammuz  was  the 
Syrian  name  of  Adonis,  under  which  title  the  Phenicians  worshiped  the  sun. 
Adonis  is  the  Pheniciau,  or  old  Hebrew,  for  "  Lord,"  or  "my  Lord,"  and  is 
the  same  in  meaning  as  Baal.  The  worship  of  Adonis,  which  spread  through 
many  lands,  was  Phenician  in  origin,  and  was  celebrated  chiefly  in  Byblus, 
and  in  the  temples  of  Aphrodite.  According  to  the  legend,  Adonis  was 
killed  by  a  boar  and  afterward  rose  from  the  dead.  This  is  supposed  to  re 
present  the  sun's  decline  in  winter  and  his  returning  strength  in  summer. 



The  ceremonies  consisted  in  mourning  over  his  death  and  searching  for  the 
idol  which  represented  his  body,  after  which  there  were  festivities  accom 
panied  with  gross  debauchery. 

Others,  however,  recognizing  the  article  in  the  original,  making  it  the  Tam- 
muz,  have  supposed  the  word  to  designate  an  idol  set  up  for  worship.  An 
old  Rabbinical  commentator  says  that  the  image  was  made  of  metal,  and  was 
hollow.  In  the  eye  socket  there  was  lead,  which,  on  a  fire  being  kindled 
within  the  hollow  image,  melted  and  ran  down  like  tears.  Another  represents 
the  Tammuz  as  a  hollow  image  with  holes  through  which  water  flowed. 
Those  who  adopt  the  idea  that  the  image  wept,  whether  from  fire  or  water, 
render  the  text,  "  there  sat  women  causing  Tammuz  to  weep." 

Another  ancient  tradition  makes  Tammuz  the  name  of  an  old  idolatrous 
prophet,  who  was  put  to  death  by  a  king  whom  he  endeavored  to  persuade 
to  worship  the  stars.  On  the  night  of  his  death  all  the  images  gathered 
from  the  ends  of  the  earth  to  the  temple  of  Babel,  where  was  the  golden 
image  of  the  sun.  This  image,  suspended  between  heaven  and  earth,  fell 
down  in  the  midst  of  the  temple,  and  all  the  other  images  fell  around  it.  and 
wept  all  night  because  of  the  death  of  the  prophet.  After  this  there  was 
an  annual  mourning  on  account  of  his  death. 

"Whether  Tammuz  was  a  myth,  an  idol,  or  a  man,  the  women  spoken  ot 
in  the  text  were  undoubtedly  engaged  in  some  acts  of  idolatrous  worship 
which  are  called  ''  abominations." 


VIII,  16.  Five  and.  twenty  men,  with  their  backs  toward  the 
temple  of  the  Lord,  and  their  faces  toward  the  east ;  and  they 
worshiped  the  sun  toward  the  east. 

This  shows  their  connection  with  the  fire-worshipers.  All  nations  who 
worshiped  the  sun  prayed  with  their  faces  turned  to  the  East.  The  oldest 
temples  of  the  fire-worshipers  were  built  in  such  a  manner  that  the  entrance 
was  on  the  west  side,  so  that  the  worshipers  faced  the  East  on  entering. 
The  temple  of  Jehovah  was  built  with  the  entrance  in  the  East  and  the 
Oracle  in  the  West,  so  that  the  worshipers  turned  their  backs  on  the  place 
of  the  rising  sun.  The  perverted  priests  mentioned  in  the  text  disrespectfully 
turned  their  backs  on  the  Oracle,  arid  faced  the  East  like  the  fire- worshipers. 


VIII,  17.    They  put  the   branch  to  their  nose. 

According  to  Strabo  and  others,  when  the  fire-worshipers  prayed  before 
the  sacred  fire,  they  held  in  the  left  hand  a  little  bunch  of  t\vigs  called 
larsom,  and  applied  it  to  their  mouth  when  uttering  prayer.  Hengstenberg 
says:  "The  nose  is  derisively  mentioned  in  place  of  the  mouth,  according  to 


the  leaning  to  irony  and  sarcasm,  which  appears  so  often  in  the.  prophets 
when,  they  oppose  and  chastise  superstitious  folly." — Commentary  on 

Some  think  the  reference  here  is  to  the  custom  of  divining  by  rods.  See 
note  on  Hosea  iv,  12. 

57O.— THE  INKHORN.      '  „ 

IX,  2.  One  man  among  them  was  clothed  with  linen,  with  a 
writer's  inkhorn  by  his  side. 

It  is  still  customary  in  the  East  to  put  into  the  girdle  the  case  containing 
writing  implements.  It  consists  of  two  parts,  a  receptacle  for  the  pens, 

and  a  box  for  the 
ink.  It  is  some 
times  made  of  eb 
ony  or  some  other 
hardwood,  but  gen 
erally  of  metal  — 

brass,  copper,  or 
123 — INKHORN. 

silver — often  high 
ly  polished  and  of  exquisite  workmanship.  It  is  about  nine  or  ten  inches 
long,  one  and  a  half  or  two  inches  wide,  and  half  an  inch  deep.  The 
hollow  shaft  contains  pens  of  reed  and  a  penknife,  and  has  a  lid.  To 
the  upper  end  of  this  case  the  inkstand  is  soldeied  if  of  metal.  This  is  a 
small  box,  square,  round,  or  polygonal;  has  a  lid  which  moves  on  hinges,  and 
fastens  with  a  clasp.  It  is  usually  twice  as  heavy  as  the  shaft.  The  pro 
jection  of  tlie  inkstand  is  seen  outside  the  girdle,  while  the  shaft  is  concealed 
by  its  folds. 


IX,  4.  Set  a  mark  upon  the  foreheads  of  the  men  that  sigh 
and  that  cry  for  all  the  abominations  that  be  done  in  the  midst 

This  mark  was  to  be  put  on  these  faithful  ones  for  their  protection  when 
the  faithless  were  to  be  destroyed.  It  showed  that  they  belonged  to  God. 
The  allusion  is  to  a  very  ancient  custom.  In  Egypt  a  runaway  slave  was 
freed  from  his  master  if  he  went  to  the  temple  and  gave  himself  up  to  the 
god,  receiving  certain  marks  upon  his  person  to  denote  his  consecration  to 
the  deity  there  worshiped.  Cain  had  a  mark  put  on  him  for  his  protection, 
as  an  evidence  of  God's  promise  to  spare  his  life  notwithstanding  his  wicked 
ness.  Gen.  iv,  15.  To  this  day  all  Hindus  have  some  sort  of  mark  upon 
their  forehead  signifying  their  consecration  to  their  gods.  Several  passages 
u  the  book  of  Revelation  represent  the  saints  as  having  a  mark  on  their 

19  4 

€>02  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Ezekiel 

foreheads.     See   Rev.  vii.   3;  ix,  4  'xiv,   1;  xxii,  4.     The  followers  of  the 
"beast"  are  also  said  to  be  marked  in  the  forehead  or  in  the  hands.     See 
Rev.  xiii,  16,  17;  xiv,  9;  xx,  4.     The  Romans  marked  their  soldiers  in  the 
hand  and  their  slaves  in  the  forehead.     The  woman  in  scarlet,  whom  John 
saw,  had  a  name  written  on  her  forehead.    Rev.  xvii.  5. 
See  also  note  on  Gal.  vi,  17. 


XIII,  10.  One  built  up  a  wall,  and,  lo,  others  daubed  it  \vith 
untempered  mortar.  See  also  Ezek.  xxii,  28. 

Kitto  is  of  the  opinion  that  reference  is  here  made  to  "cob- walls ;  "  that  is,- 
walls  which  are  made  of  beaten  earth  rammed  into  molds  or  boxes,  to  give 
shape  and  consistence,  and  then  emptied  from  the  molds,  layer  by  layer, 
on  the  wall,  where  it  dries  as  the  work  goes  on.  •  Such  walls  cannot  stand 
the  effects  of  the  weather,  and  houses  built  on  this  principle  soon  crumble 
and  decay.  See  note  on  Job  xv,  28.  To  protect  them  from  the  weather  a 
very  fine  mortar  is  sometimes  made,  which  is  laid  thickly  on  the  outside  of 
the  walls.  When  this  mortar  is  properly  mixed  with  lime  it  answers  the 
purpose  designed;  but  where  the  lime  is  left  out,  as  is  often  the  case,  the 
"  untempered  mortar  "  is  no  protection.  For  mode  of  making  mortar,  see 
note  on  Lev.  xiv,  42. 

Some  commentators,  however,  translate  taphel,  which  in  our  version  is 
rendered  "  untempered  mortar,"  by  the  word  ''whitewash."  They  represent 
the  idea  of  the  text  to  be  the  figure  'of  a  wall  of  unendurable  material,  and 
coated,  not  with  cement  which  might  protect  it,  but  with  a  mere  thin 
covering  of  lime,  which  gives  the  wall  a  finished  durable  appearance, 
which  its  real  character  does  not  warrant.  Thus  Paul  calls  the  high  priest, 
"  thou  whited  wall."  Acts  xxiii,  3.  See  note  on  "  whited  sepulchers,"  un 
der  Matt,  xxiii,  27. 


XIII,  18.  Woe  to  the  women  that  sew  pillows  to  all  armholes, 
and  make  kerchiefs  upon  the  head  of  every  stature  to  hunt 

It  is  not  by  any  means  certain  that  the  customs  alluded  to  in  this  text  can, 
at  this  late  day,  be  explained. 

1.  The  pillows  sewed  to  the  armholes,  or  to  the'"  elbows,"  as  the  margin 
has  it,  are  usunllv  supposed  to  mean  the  soft  cushions  which  are  placed  on 
Oriental  divans.  Among  the  poorer  classes  the  skins  of  sheep  or  of  goats 
were  formerly  used  for  pillows,  being  stuffed  with  chaff  or  wool  for  this  pur 
pose.  The  pillows  of  the  wealthy  were,  of  course,  more  luxurious  in  style  and 
in  finish.  They  were  stuffed  with  some  soft  substance,  and  covered  with 

Ez3\i3i.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  303 

ric;i  ai 

md  costly  materials.  These,  placed  on  the  bed  on  the  divan,  (see  notes 
on  2  Kings  i,  4,  and  on  Amos  iii,  12,)  made  a  luxurious  resting-place  for 
the  arms. 

Other  interpretations,  however,  have  been  given  of  the  passage.  Instead  of 
"armholes"  or  "elbows"  some  authorities  have,  as  a  more  literal  interpreta 
lion,"  joints  of  the  hands."  See GESENIUS,  Lexicon,  and  FAIRBAIRX,  Commen- 
t>ry.  Others  render  atstsile  yadai,  "joints  of  my  hands."  See  Hengstenberg 
and  Wordsworth,  and  the  authorities  cited  by  the  latter.  These  commen 
tators  suppose  the  meaning  to  be  that,  when  God  stretched  forth  his  hands 
to  punish  sin,  the  false  prophets  covered  them  by  their  heterodox  teaching,  so 
that  his  hands  would  not  seem  to  be  able  to  grasp  the  rebellious  offenders. 

It  has  also  been  suggested  by  an  old  writer  that  the  false  prophetesses 
referred  to  in  the  text  practiced  divination,  and  that  the  pillows  were  amu 
lets,  which  were  fitted  to  their  sleeves  to  aid  them  in  their  work.  We  have 
not  been  able,  however,  to  find  any  evidence  of  the  existence  of  such  a  cus 
tom.  Verse  20  of  this  chapter  seems  to  intimate  that  the  pillows  were  not 
merely  made  for  the  arms,  but  fastened  to  the  arms :  "  I  will  tear  them  from 
your  arms."  We  have  no  evidence,  however,  that  it  refers  to  divination. 

2.  Alispaclioth,  "kerchiefs,"  has  been  variously  rendered  "cushions," 
"quilts,"  "coverings  for  the  head,"  and  "long,  flowing  robes  or  mantles." 

The  word  is  generally  thought  to  signify  large  and  costly  coverings  for  the 
head.  Some  suppose  these  to  have  been  designed  to  add  to  the  luxury  and 
attractiveness  of  the  wicked  prophetesses  who  wore  them.  Kitto  connects 
the  practice  with  the  worship  of  Astarte.  in  whose  figures  there  is  always 
something  remarkable  about  the  head-dress.  Others,  however,  who  suppose 
the  pillows  to  have  been  cushions  covering  the  hand  of  Jehovah,  as  already 
noted,  place  these  head-dresses  on  the  heads  of  the  ungodly  people  who  merit 
Divine  retribution,  and  regard  the  figure  as  further  carrying  out  the  idea 
that  the  wicked  prophetesses  endeavored  to  neutralize  the  blow  of  Jehovah's 
judgment,  not  only  by  covering  his  hands,  but  also  by  covering  the  heads 
of  the  guilty. 

Another  interpretation,  however,  makes  these  mispachoth  similar  to  the 
mitpachoth  of  Isa.  iii,  22,  "  wimples  "  in  our  version.  See  the  note  on  that 
text.  Dr.  Alexander,  editor  of  Kittys  Cyclopedia,  calls  attention  to  the  affinity 
between  the  two  words,  and  also  notices  the  fact  that,  in  verse  21,  the 
tfiiipachoik  are  shown  to  be  articles  that  can  be  torn.  He  therefore  adopts 
the  opinion  of  Kimchi,  who  says  that  the  mispachoth  were  long  loose  robes 
such  as  the  goddesses  are  represented  as  wearing,  and  in  which  the  women 
referred  to  in  the  text  wrapped  themselves  from  head  to  foot.  For  "  ker 
chiefs  upon  the  head  of  every  stature,"  Dr.  Alexander  would  read,  "robes 
of  every  length  on  the  head ;  "  that  is,  these  luxurious  women  made  use  of 
elegant  and  well- fiti  ing  robes. 


304  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Ezekiel. 


XVI,  4.    Thou,  -wast  not  salted  at   all. 

In  ancient  times  new-born  babes  were  rubbed  with  salt  in  order  to  harden 
their  skin,  as  this  operation  was  supposed  to  make  it  dry,  tight,  and  firm. 
G;den  mentions  the  practice,  and  it  is  also  referred  to  by  Jerome  in  his  com 
mentary  on  this  passage.  The  salt  may  also  have  been  applied  as  an 
emblem  of  purity  and  incorruption. 

575.— PITFALLS. 

XIX,  4.  The  nations  also  heard,  of  him,  he  was  taken  in  their 

There  is  thought  to  be  an  allusion  here  to  the  custom  of  assembling  for 
the  capture  of  a  lion  or  other  wild  beast  when  the  news  of  its  depredations 
goes  forth.  All  who  hear  of  it  are  expected  to  aid  in  the  capture. 

Tiie  special  mode  of  capture  referred  to  in  this  text  is  by  means  of  the 
pitfall.  A  hole  is  dug  in  the  ground,  and  covered  over  with  the  branches 
of  trees  and  with  sod.  The  animal  treading  on  this  slight  covering  is  pre 
cipitated  into  the  pit,  whore  it  is  either  taken  out  alive  or  killed  by  the 
hunters  on  their  arrival. 

Figurative  allusion  is  made  to  the  pitfall  in  Psa.  vii,  15;  ix,  15  j 
xxxv,  7;  xciv,  13;  Prov.  xxvi,  27;  Isa.  xxxviii,  17. 

576.— SCEPTERS. 

XIX,  11.  She  had  strong  rods  for  the  scepters  of  them  that  bare 

Scepters  were  originally  nothing  but  simple  rods  cut  from  the  branches  of 
trees,  and  more  or  less  ornamented.  They  were  in  later  times  more  elabo 
rately  made,  and  sometimes,  instead  of  wood,  the  material  was  gold.  Esther 
v,  2.  The  opinion  that  the  scepter  originated  with  the  shepherd's  staff,  be 
cause  the  first  kings  were  mostly  nomad  princes,  though  entertained  by 
some  eminent  authorities,  is  rejected  by  others  equally  eminent.  The  scep 
ter  of  the  ancient  Egyptian  kings  is  said,  by  Diodorus  Siculus,  to  have  re 
sembled,  not  a  shepherd's  crook,  but  a  plow.  The  scepter  may  have  been 
originally  used  by  kings  and  leaders  simply  because  it  was  the  most  natural 
support  and  weapon ;  while  subsequent  circumstances  changed  its  form  and 


XXI,  14.  Thou,  therefore,  son  of  man,  prophesy,  and  smite 
thine  hands  together. 

Several  different  emotions  seem  to  have  been  represented  at  different  times 
by  the  action  of  smiting  the  hands,  all  of  which  we  group  in  one  note. 

Ez3kielJ  BIBLE    MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  305 

1.  It  was  sometimes  a  sign  of  contempt.     Of  the  wicked  rich  man  Jcb 
says,  (i  Men  shall  clap  their  hands  at  him,  and  shall   hiss  him  out  of  his 
place."  Job  xxvii,  23.     Jeremiah  represents  Jerusalem  as  so  desolate  that 
all  the  passers-by  clap  their  hands  at  her.     See  Lam.  ii,  15. 

2.  It  was  sometimes  a  sign  of  anger.     When  Balaam  blessed  Israel,  in 
stead  of  cursing  them,  "Balak's  anger  was  kindled  against  Balaam,  and  he 
smote  his  hands  together."  Num.  xxiv,  10.     So  when  the  Lord  beheld  the 
wickedness  of  the  house  of  Israel,  the  representation  of  his  kindled  wrath 
is  expressed  in  these  words :  "Behold,  therefore  I  have  smitten  mine  hand 
at  thy  dishonest  gain  which  thou  hast  made,  and  at  thy  blood  which  hath 
been  in  the  midst  of  tliee."  Ezek.  xxii,  13. 

3.  It  was  sometimes  a  sign  of  sorrow.     In  sorrow,  for  the  idolatry  of 
Israel,  the  Lord  commanded  Ezekiel  to  smite  with  his  hand.     See  Ezek. 
vi,  11. 

4.  It  was  sometimes  a  sign  of  triumph.     In  this  manner  the  Ammonites 
rejoiced  over  fallen  Israel.     God  says,  "  Thou  hast  clapped  thine  hands,  and 
stamped  with  the  feet,  and  rejoiced  in  heart  with  all  thy  despite  against 
the  land  of  Israel."  Ezek.  xxv,  6.     It  is  to  be  noticed  that  in  this  text,  and 
in  the   one  last  quoted,  clapping  the  hand  is  connected  with  stamping  the 

5.  It  was  sometimes  the  sign  of  a  pledge  or  an  oath.      The  hand  was  used 
for  this  purpose  by  uplifting.     See  note  on  Gen.  xiv,  22.     A  similar  purpose 
was  accomplished  by  two  persons  striking  hands.     See  note  on  Prov.  xi.  21. 
In  addition  to  this,  the  striking  of  one  hand  upon  another  belonging  to  the 
same  man  was  also  considered  as  a  pledge  of  earnestness  and  of  truth 
Thus  Ezekiel  is  told  in  the  text  to  smite  his  hands  together,  and  in  verse 
17  the  Lord  promises  to  smite  his  hands  together.     In  both  instances  there 
is  a  pledge  to  the  performance  of  what  is  stated. 

Smiting  the  hands  together  has  the  signification  of  an  oath  in  some  parts 
of  the  East  to  this  day. 


XXI,  21.  For  the  king  of  Babylon  stood,  at  the  parting  of  the 
way,  at  the  head  of  the  two  ways,  to  use  divination :  he  made 
his  arrows  bright,  he  consulted  with  images,  he  looked  in  the 

Three  modes  of  divination  are  here  mentioned  as  having  been  practiced 
by  the  king  of  Babylon  when  he  came  to  the  junction  of  two  ways  and  was 
unable  to  decide  which  to  take. 

1.  Bdomancy,  or  divination  by  arrows.  Kilkal  bachitsim,  "he  made  his 
arrows  bright."  is  literally,  "  he  shook  the  arrows,"  alluding  to  the  mode  of 
using  the  arrows  for  the  purpose  of  divination.  According  to  Jerome,  in  the 



case  referred  to  in  the  text,  each  arrow  to  be  used  bad  on  it  the  name  of 
some  town  to  be  attacked.  The  arrows  so  marked  were  put  into  a  quiver 
and  shaken  together,  after  which  they  were  drawn  one  by  one.  The  cities 
were  to  be  attacked  in  the  order  in  which  the  arrows  were  drawn.  As  "  Jeru 
salem  "  was  on  the  arrow  first  drawn,  thither  the  king  proceeded.  Another 
old  writer  says  that  the  arrows  were  thrown  up  to  see  which  way  they 
would  fall,  and  in  this  manner  the  course  to  be  taken  was  indicated. 

Some  of  the  sculp* ured  slabs  at  Nimroud  are  supposed  to  represent  divi 
nation  of  this  sort,  the  king  being  seen  with  arrows  in  his  hand. 

This  superstition  was  much  practiced  by  the  Arabs,  notwithstanding  it  is 
prohibited  in  the  Koran:  "It  is  likewise  unlawful  for  you  to  make  division 
by  casting  lots  with  arrows.  This  is  an  impiety." — Koran,  chap,  v,  (Sale's 
translation.  See  also  Mr.  SALE'S  Preliminary  Discourse,  §  5.) 

The  Arabs  were  in  the  habit  of  consulting  their  arrows  before  any  thing  of 
importance  was  undertaken.  These  arrows  were  parti-colored,  were  with 
out  heads  or  feathers,  and  were  kept  in 'some  sacred  plnce.  Seven  of  them 
were  kept  in  the  temple  at  Mecca.  In  divination  the  Arabs  generally  used 
but  three,  though  sometimes  they  used  four.  On  one  of  the  arrows  was 
written,  in  Arabic.  "  My  Lord  hath  bidden  me  ;  "  on  the  second,  "  My  Lord 
hath  forbidden  me;  "  the  third  was  blank.  If  the  first  was  drawn,  the  pro 
posed  enterprise  was  carried  out ;  if  the  second  was  drawn,  the  project  was 
abandoned;  if  the  third  was  brought  out,  the  arrows  had  to  be  again  mixed 
and  drawn  until  a  decided  answer  was  obtained. 

2.  Consultation  of  the   tenipldm,     "  He    consulted   with    images."     The 
Hebrew  word  is  teraphim.     Fairbairn  says :  "  This  is  the  only  place  where 
the  use  of  teraphim  is  expressly  ascribed  to  a  heathen,  though  in  1  Sarn. 
xv,  23,  it  is  stigmatized  as  of  an  essentially  heathen  and,  consequently,  ob 
noxious  character:  '  Stubbornness  is  as  iniquity  and  teraphim.'  " — Commentary 
in  loco.     The  Hebrews  were  very  much  addicted  to   this  form   of  divina 
tion.     See  note  on  Gen.  xxxi,  19. 

3.  Hepatoscopy,  or  inspection  of  the  liver.     This  is  a  branch  of  splanclmo- 
mancy,  or  divination  by  inspection  of  the  viscera,  and  is  often  referred  to  by 
classic  writers.     It  is  said  that  among  the  Lusitani  the  livers  were  obtained, 
not  only  from  animals  offered  in  'sacrifice,  but  also  from  prisoners  taken 
in  war ! 

The  Orientals  considered  the  liver  to  be  the  most  valuable  of  the  viscera 
because  they  thought  it  most  concerned  in  the  formation  of  the  blood,  and 
they  believed  that  in  the  blood  is  the  life.  The  ancient  Jews,  Greeks,  and 
Romans,  and  some  other  nations,  supposed  the  liver  to  be  the  seat  of  the 
passions.  In  like  manner  the  Arabs  of  the  present  day  regard  the  liver  as 
the  seat  of  courage  ;  and  among  the  Malay  peoples  the  liver  is  considered  the 
seat  of  all  moral  impressions  and  feelings.  One  names  another  caressingly, 




"  My  liver!  "  "My  liver  is  sick"  is,  in  other  words,  "1  am  angry."  "My 
liver  is  anxiou?,"  "my  liver  wishes,"  is  absolutely  equivalent,  in  other 
words,  to  "  my  heart."  "my  soul.''  —  See  DELITZSCII'S  Syntem  of  Biblical 
Psychology,  p.  316. 

This  widely-diffused  idea  of  antiquity,  traces  of  which  are  still  to  be  found, 
may  account  for  the  fact  that  the  liver  was  considered  the  rnost  important 
of  the  viscera  for  divining  purposes.  The  lower  part  of  the  liver  was  the 
portion  which  was  used  in  divination,  and  there  were  certain  signs  which 
were  considered  to  be  of  good  or  bad  omen.  If  the  liver  was  of  good  size, 
sound,  and  without  spot  or  blemish,  prosperity  and  success  were  expected. 
If  it  was  too  dry,  and  had  blisters,  pustules,  or  any  corrupt  humors;  if  it  was 
parched,  thin,  hard,  or  of  an  ugly  black  color,  disappointment  and  adverse 
fate  were  looked  for. 

This  revolting  mode  of  divination  was  practiced  not  only  by  the  Baby 
lonians,  as  indicated  in  the  text,  but  by  the  Greeks  and  Romans  also.  There 
is  no  evidence,  however,  of  its  existence  among  the  Jews. 


XXIII,  12.  She  doted  upon  the  Assyrians  her  neighbors,  cap 
tains  and  rulers  clothed  most  gorgeously,  horsemen  riding 
upon  horses,  all  of  them  desirable  young  men. 

The  Assyrians  were  famous  for  their  rich  and  costly  apparel.  The  ex 
pression  "Assyrian  garments"  be 
came  synonymous  with  elegant  and 
expensive  clothing.  Bonomi  says: 
"  The  robes  of  the  Assyrians  were 
generally  ample  and  flowing,  but 
differed  in  form  from  those  of  the 
Egyptians  and  the  Persians.  They 
consisted  of  tunics  or  robes  varying 
in  length,  in  mantles  of  diverse 
shapes,  of  long-fringed  scarfs,  and 
of  embroidered  girdles.  Ornaments 
were  scattered  with  profusion  over 
these  dresses,  some  of  which  appear 
to  have  been  emblematic  of  cer 
tain,  dignities  or  employments." — 
Nineveh  and  its  Palaces,  p.  431. 

The  figures  sculptured  on  the 
Assyrian  marbles  attest  to  the  truth 
fulness  of  the  description  given  in 
the  text.  Bonomi  gives  an  interest 
ing  extract  from  Mr.  Smirk's  re-  124.— ASSY 

308  BIBLE    MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Ezekiel. 

view  of  the  Assyrian  sculptures,  which  may  serve  to  illustrate  the  subject: 
"The  apparel  of  the  Assyrians  appears  hy  these  sculptures  to  have  been 
almost  always  richly  fringed,  witli  wide  borders  ornamented  with  figures  of 
men,  animals,  and  foliage.  The  caparison  of  their  horses  is  most  gorgeous; 
every  strap  of  their  head  and  body-housings  is  enriched;  to  the  charior, 
horses  is  usually  seen  attached,  apparently  either  to  the  extremity  of  the 
pole  or  to  the  trappings  or'  the  neck,  and  to  the  front  of  the  chariot  itself,  a 
long  fish-shaped  piece  of  drapery  fringed  and  embroidered.  Layard  is  at 
a  loss  to  designate  this  object.  Perhaps  'the  precious  clothes  for  chariots.' 
alluded  to  by  Ezekiel  (see  Kzek.  xxvii.  20)  as  being  obtained  by  the  people 
of  Tyre  from  Dedan,  may  have  reference  to  this  singular  piece  of  horse- 
furniture." — Nineveh  and  its  Palaces,  p.  437. 


XXIII,  14.  She  saw  men  portrayed  upon  the  wall,  the  images 
of  the  Chaldeans  portrayed  with  vermilion. 

Here  is  a  manifest  reference  to  those  wonderful  mural  sculptures  which, 
after  being  buried  for  centuries  amid  the  ruins  of  the  palaces  and  temples 
whose  walls  they  once  adorned,  have  been  brought  to  light  by  the  per 
severance  and  skill  of  modern  explorers.  It  is  not  at  all  improbable  that 
Ezekiel  himeelf  once  saw  the  very  marbles  that  the  eyes  of  this  generation 
are  permitted  to  behold. 

The  Assyrian  and  Chaldean  sculptures  were  colored.  Traces  of  red, 
blue,  and  black  still  remain  on  the  beard  and  hair,  and  on  some  of  the 
head-coverings.  The  Assyrian  red  was  more  brilliant  than  the  Egyptian. 
It  is  almost  vermilion  in  the  sculptures  of  Khorsabad,  and  a  brilliant  crimson 
or  lake-tint  in  those  of  Nimroud.  Bonomi  and  some  others  suppose  that 
there  were  originally  other  colors  used  on  the  sculptures,  but  that,  being 
more  destructible  than  those  which  remain,  they  have  disappeared  in  the  lapse 
of  time.  There  is  no  positive  evidence  of  this,  though  it  is  highly  probable. 


XXIII,  25.  I  will  set  my  jealousy  against  thtee,  and  they  shall 
deal  furiously  with  thee  :  they  shall  take  away  thy  nose  and 
thine  ears. 

These  mutilations  were  common  among  the  Chaldeans  and  Persians. 
Among  the  former  adulterers  were  punished  in  this  manner,  which  fact  is 
doubtless  the  basis  of  the  reference  in  the  text. 


XXXII,  27.  "Which  are  gone  down  to  hell  with  their  weapons 
of  war :  and  they  have  laid  their  swords  under  their  heads. 

This  is  an  allusion  to  an  ancient  custom  of  burying  the  weapons  of  war 
with  the  warrior.  Chardin  says  that  "  in  Mingrelia  they  all  sleep  with  their 

Ez3Kiel.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  309 

swords  under  their  heads  and  their  other  arms  by  their  sides ;  and  they 
bury  them  in  the  same  manner,  their  arms  being  placed  in  the  same  posi 
tion." — HARMER'S  Observations,  vol.  iii,  p.  55. 


XXXVII,  20.  The  sticks  whereon  thou  writest  shall  be  in  thine 
hand  before  their  eyes. 

We  find  the  practice  of  writing  on  rods  alluded  to  as  early  as  the  time  of 
Moses.  See  Num.  xvii,  2.  A  similar  practice  was  known  among  the 
Greeks.  The  laws  of  Solon,  which  were  preserved  at  Athens,  were  written 
on  billets  of  wood  called  axones.  These  were  of  a  square  or  pyramidal  form, 
and  made  to  turn  on  an  axis.  The  northern  naMons  and  the  ancient  Britons 
also  wrote  on  sticks.  Some  of  these  were  square  and  some  three  sided,  and 
each  side  contained  one  line.  These  sticks  were  sometimes  set  in  a  frame 
work  which  was  called  Peitltynen,  or  the  Elucidator.  At  one  end  of  each 
stick  was  a  knob  projecting  beyond  the  frame.  By  means  of  these  knobs  the 
sticks  could  be  turned  and  the  successive  lines  read.  "Stick  almanacs" 
were  used  in  England  almost  to  the  fourteenth  century.  Some  were  large, 
and  hung  up  on  one  side  of  the  mantel-piece ;  while  others  were  small  enough 
to  be  carried  in  the  pocket. 

584.— THE  BATH. 

XLV,  10.  Ye  shall  have  just  balances,  and  a  just  ephah,  and  a 
just  bath. 

The  bath  was  a  measure  of  liquids,  such  as  wine  and  oil,  and  was  of  the 
same  capacity  as  the  ephah  in  dry  measure.  See  note  on  Kxod.  xvi,  36.  It 
is  supposed  to  have  contained  nearly  nine  gallons.  It  is  referred  to  also  in 
Isa.  v,  10.  The  "  measures  "  mentioned  in  Luke  xvi,  6,  are  baths. 

See  also  note  on  John  ii.  6. 

585.— THE    MANEH. 

XLV,  12.  Twenty  shekels,  five-and-twenty  shekels,  fifteen 
shekels,  shall  be  your  maneh. 

Maneh  is  supposed  by  some  to  be  the  origin  of  the  Latin  moneta  and  the 
English  money;  though  others  give  to  the  word  a  different  etymology.  It 
was  the  standard  pound  among  Hebrew  weights,  and  the  word  is  rendered 
"pound"  in  several  passages.  See  1  Kings  x,  17  ;  Ezra  ii,  69;  Neli.  vii,  71, 
72.  In  this  text  it  is  untranslated.  The  word  often  occurs  on  the  Assyr 
ian  inscriptions  also. 

The  ordinary  maneh  in  use  among  the  Hebrews  is  supposed  to  have 
weighed  a  hundred  shekels,  or  about  one  pound  fourteen  ounces  avoirdupois, 


310  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [Ezekiel, 

In  this  text,  however,  another  maneh  seems  to  be  mentioned.  The  pas 
sage  is  confessedly  obscure,  and  various  interpretations  have  been  given 
of  it. 

Some  think  that  three  distinct  manehs  are  referred  to :  one  of  twenty,  one 
of  twenty-five,  and  one  of  fifteen  shekels.  Heugstenberg  suggests  that  the 
mnneli  was  of  foreign  origin,  and  that  tlie  three  different  values  here 
attached  are  the  estimates  put  upon  it  in  the  different  c<  imtries  where  it  was 

Others  suppose  that  the  text  refers  to  but  a  single  maneh  of  sixty  shekels 
divided  into  three  ports,  20+25+15.  Cliardin  found  this  a  customary  mode 
of  reckoning  in  the  East ;  and  though  it  seems  strange  to  us,  yet  if  the  cus 
tom  was  practiced  in  Ezekiel's  time,  it  was  but  natural  that  the  maneh 
should  be  described  in  this  way. 

586.— THE  COR. 
XLV,  14.    The  Cor,    which  is  a  homer  of  ten  baths. 

The  cor,  or  homer,  was  used  for  either  dry  or  liquid  measure.  The  liquid 
cor  is  supposed  to  have  contained  seventy-five  gallons.  The  dry  cor  is  sup 
posed  to  have  contained  eight  bushels  and  a  pint.  It  is  mentioned  in  1  Kings 
iv,  22,  and  Luke  xvi,  7,  in  both  of  which  places  it  is  rendered  "  measures." 



1, 2.  He  brought  the  vessels  into  the  treasure-house  of  his 

It  is  customary  in  every  heathen  temple  to  have  a  particular  place  for 
storing  the  sacred  jewels  and  other  valuables  which  are  supposed  to  be  the 
special  property  of  the  idol  there  worshiped.  Nebuchadnezzar  havingbrought 
from  Jerusalem,  as  trophies  of  war,  the  sacred  vessels  of  the  temple,  placed 
them  in  the  temple  of  Bel  us  at  Babylon  side  by  side  with  the  costly  orna 
ments  and  utensils  which  were  appropriated  to  idolatrous  worship. 

There  were  also  in  the  temple  at  Jerusalem  rooms  specially  get  apart  for 
the  reception  of  tithes,  and  for  the  storing  of  valuable  articles  belonging  to  the 
sacred  edifice.  See  1  Chrou.  ix,  26;  2  Chrou.  xxxi,  11 ;  Neh.  x,  38. 


I,  5.  The  king  appointed  them  a  daily  provision  of  the  king's 
meat,  and  of  the  wine  which  he  drank. 

This  would  have  been  a  very  luxurious  mode  of  living  for  these  Hebrew 
lads,  quite  in  contrast  to  what  they  had  been  accustomed  to,  and  to  the 

Daniel.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  311 

extremely  plain  diet  which  Daniel  requested  lor  himself  and  his  companions. 
The  Babylonian  kings  and  nobles  were  noted  for  their  high  living.  Thejr  ta 
bles  were  loaded  with  wheaten  bread,  meats  in  great  variety,  luscious  fruits, 
fish,  and  game.  The  usual  beverage  was  wine  of  the  best  varieties,  and 
they  were  fond  of  drinking  to  excess.  The  ancient  Persian  kings  followed 
the  custom  of  the  Babylonian  monarch,  and  fed  their  attendants  from  their 
own  tables. 


II,  5.    Ye    shall    be    cut    in    pieces,    and.    your  houses  shall    be 
made    a  dunghill.    See  also  chap,  ill,  29. 

1.  Cutting  into  pieces  was  a  punishment  common  to  many  ancient  nations. 
It  was  known  to  the  Hebrews,  and  was  inflicted  by  Samuel  upon  Agag. 
See  1  Sam.  xv,  33.     Some  think  that  dichotomy,  or  sawing  asunder,  is  the 
punishmei  t  here  referred  to.     See  note  on  Heb.  xi,  37. 

2.  According  to  Babylonian  customs  the  house  in  which  the  criminal  lived 
was  sometimes  destroyed,  and  the  very  land  on  which  his  dwelling  stood 
considered  cursed  forever.     The  custom  was  also  known  among  the  Persians. 
See  the  decree   of  Darius  in   Ezra  vi,  11.     It  was  likewise  practiced  ac 
Athens.      There    were  many  spots   in    the  midst  of   that    populous   city 
which  were  kept  perpetually  vacant  by  reason  of  a  decree  similar  to  that 
referred  to  in  the  text. 


III,  5,    The  sound  of  the   cornet,   flute,  harp,    sackbut,   psaltery, 
dulcimer.     See  verses  T,  10,  and  15. 

1.  Keren,  "cornet,"  is  described  in  the  note  on  1  Chron.  xxv,  5. 

2.  Mashrokitha,  "flute,"  was  an  instrument  supposed  by  pome  to  have  been 
like  the  chalil,  "pipe."     See  note  on   1   Kings  i,  40.     Others  think  it  con- 
sisted  of  a  number  of  pipes  similar  to  the  ugab,  "  organ."     See  note  on  Psa. 
cl,  4. 

3.  Kathros,  "  harp,"  is  thought  by  Eawlinson  to  repre 
sent  the  Babylonian  harp,  which,  he  says,  "  would  seem 
to  have  resembled  the  later  harp  of  the  Assyrians,  but  it 
had  fewer  strings,  if  we  may  judge  from  a  representation 
upon  a  cylinder.     Like  the  Assyrian,  it  was  carried  under 
one  arm  and  was  played  by  both   hands,  one  on  cither 
side  of  the  strings." — five  Ancient  Monarchies,  vol.  iii,  p.  20. 
It  is  thought  by  some  to  have  less  resembled  the  harp  t!  an 
the  cithern  or  cittern,  which  was  an  instrument  of  Greek 
origin,  and  in  use  among  the  Chaldeans.     It  was  of  the 
guitar  species,  and  is  still  used  in  many  eastern  countries, 


It  has  strings  varying -iu  number  from  three  to  twenty.four. 




4.  Sabbeca,  "sackbut,"  is  thought  to  have  resembled  the  samluca  of  the 
Romans.     Ravvlinson  supposes  it  to  have  been  a  large  harp,  resting  on  the 
ground  like  the  harps  of  the  Egyptians.     "Wright  (in  SMITH'S  Dictionary 
of  the  Bible)  states  that  the  sambuca  was  triangular  in  shape,  having  four  or 
more  strings ;  it  was  played  by  the  fingers,  and  gave  forth  a  shrill  sound. 

5.  Pesanterin,  "psalterjV  was  a  species  of  harp,  thought  to  be  the  same 
as  the  nebel.     See  note  on  Psa.  xxxiii,  2.     Rawlinson   suggests   that  it  may 
have  resembled  the  modern  xantour.  and  if  so,  he  supposes  that  he  has  found 

a  representation  of  it  on  an  As 
syrian  monument.  It  was  a  sort 
of  dulcimer,  which  was  sus 
pended  from  the  neck  of  the 
musician,  and  projected  horizon 
tally  from  his  waist.  "  It  con 
sisted  (apparently)  of  a  number 
of  strings,  containing  not  fewer 
than  ten,  stretched  over  a  hollow 
case  or  sounding-board.  The 
musician  seems  to  have  struck 
the  strings  with  a  small  bar  or 
hammer  held  in  his  right  hand, 
while,  at  the  same  time,  he  made 
some  use  of  his  left  hand  in 
pressing  them  so  as  to  produce 
the  right  note."— Five  Ancient 
Monarchies,  vol.  i,  pp.  537,  538. 

6.  Sumponyah,  "  dulcimer,"  w 
variously  thought  to  have  been  a 
lute,  a  crooked  trumpet,  a  long 
drum,  an  organ,  and  a  bagpipe. 
Gesenius,  and  others  with  him, 
suppose  the  last-named  instru 
ment  to  be  meant.  The  bagpipe 
is,  nt  the  present  day,  called  in  Italy  sampogna,  and  in  Asia  Minor  sambony. 
It  may  be  noted,  as  a  curious  illustration  of  the  wide  difference  of  opinion 
in  respect  to  many  of  the  ancient  musical  instruments,  that  some  authorities 
consider  the  bagpipe  to  be  intended  by  the  word  ugab.  See  note  on  Psa. 
cl,  4. 

The  monuments  amply  testify  to  the  fondness  of  the  Babylonians  for 
music.  They  had  numerous  instruments,  and  organized  large  bands.  Anna- 
rus,  a  Babylonian  noble,  entertained  his  guests  at  a  banquet  with  music,  VO' 
cal  and  instrumental,  performed  by  a  band  of  one  hundred  and  fifty  women. 

126.— MUSICIAN  1 



Ill,  6.  And  whoso  falleth  not  down  and  worshipeth  shall 
the  same  hour  be  east  into  the  midst  of  a  burning  fiery 

1.  This  is  the  first  indication  we  have  in  sacred  history  of  so  short  a  divis 
ion  of  time  as  an  hour.     Shaah,  '-hour,"  is  supposed  to  be  a  vague  expres 
sion  for  a  short  time,  whose  duration  is  not  distinctly  defined,   rather  than 
for  the  definite  time  which  we  understand  by  the  word  hour.     Indeed,  we 
ourselves  use  the  word  occasionally  in  an  indefinite  sense.     The  word  is, 
however,  worthy  of  notice  here,  because  it  is  claimed  that  the  Babylonians 
were  the  first  to  make  a  regular  division  of  the  day  into  hours.     The  Greeks 
learned  it  from  them,  (see  Herodotus,  ii,   109;)  and  probably  the  Jews  did 
the  same,  since  there  is  no  allusion  to  hours  among  them  before  the  time  of 
the  captivity,   while  afterward  the  use  of  this  division  of  time  is  frequently 
noticed.     See  further  note  on  John  xi,  9. 

2.  Burning  alive  was  a  very  ancient  punishment  among  the  Babylonians, 
and  possibly  among  other  nations.     Jeremiah  mentions  two  false  prophets 
who  were  to  be  put  to  death  in  this  manner.     See  Jer.  xxix,  22.     The  cus 
tom  has  come  down  to  modem  times  in  Persia.    Chardin  says  that,  in  1668,  he 
saw  ovens  in  Ispahan  heated   by  royal  command  to  terrify  certain  bakers 
who  were  disposed  to  put  a  heavy  charge  on  their  bread  in  time  of  scarcity. 
He  speaks  of  the  punishment  of  burning  as  recognized  at  that  time,  refractory 
cooks  being  spitted  and  roasted,  and  bakers  thrown  into  an  oven.    It  is  sup 
posed  by  some  that  there  is  a  reference  to  burning  as  a  capital  punishment 
in  Psa.  xxi,  9 :   "  Thou  shalt  make  them  as  a  fiery  oven  in  the  time  of  thine 
anger :  the  Lord  shall  swallow  them  up  in  his  wrath,  and  the  fire  shall  de 
vour  them." 

592.— "MIGHTY  MEN." 

111,20.  He  commanded  the  most  mighty  men  that  were  in 
his  army  to  bind  Shadraeh,  Meshaeh,  and  Abed-nego,  and 
to  east  them  into  the  burning  fiery  furnace. 

On  the  monuments  discovered  at  Khorsabad  there  are  representations  of 
gigantic  and  muscular  men,  like  the  "  mighty  men  "  of  the  text,  who  seem  to 
have  been  always  in  attendance  on  the  king,  waiting  to  execute  his  orders. 
Such  men  were  selected  from  the  army  on  account  of  their  size  and  strength, 
just  as  it  is  customary  in  the  present  day  in  Europe,  as  well  as  in  the  East, 
to  select  men  of  unusual  stature  as  porters  or  guards  in  the  palaces  of  kings. 
The  monuments  represent  these  men  as  clad  in  a  peculiar  costume,  beautiful 
in  style,  and  rich  in  ornament.  It  was  probably  men  of  this  description  who, 
at  the  king's  command,  took  the  unfortunate  captives  and  tossed  them  into 
the  fiery  furnace. 

314:  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Daniel. 


Ill,  21.  Then  these  men  were  bound,  in  their  coats,  their 
hosen,  and  their  hats,  and  their  other  garments. 

It  is  not  easy  to  tell  the  precise  articles  of  costume  intended  by  the  original 
words  which  our  translators  have  rendered  as  above,  though  the  improved 
sources  of  exposition  in  our  day  add  to  the  knowledge  which  they  possessed. 
Bevan,  in  SMITH'S  Dictionary  of  the  Bible,  vol.  i,  p.  457,  renders  as  follows: 

1.  Sarbalin,  "coats,"  (rnarg.,  "mantles,")  were  drawers,  which  made,  the 
distinctive  feature  in  the  Persian  as  compared  with  the  Hebrew  dress. 

2.  Palish,  "  hosen,"  was  an  inner  tunic. 

3.  Carbala,  "hat,"  (marg.,    ''turban,")  was  an  upper  tunic. 

4.  Lebush,  "garmen's,"  was  a  cloak  which  was  worn  over  all. 

594.— THE  USE  OF  METAL. 

V,  4.    The  gods  of  gold,   and  of  silver,  of  brass,   of  iron. 

The  working  of  metal  into  various  artic'es  of  ornament  or  of  use  is  an  art 
as  old  as  the  days  of  Tubal-Cain.  See  Gen  iv,  22.  The  different  metals  re 
ferred  to  in  this  text  are  frequently  spoken  of  in  the  Bible.  There  is  no 
question  as  to  their  identity,  except  in  the  case  of  nechash,  which  is  the 
Chaldee  form  of  nechosheth,  and  in  the  text  is  rendered  "brass/'  The  facti 
tious  metal  known  by  this  name,  and  which  is  compounded  of  copper  and 
zinc,  is  said  to  be  of  a  later  date  than  the  early  historic  times  of  the  Bible. 
It  certainly  cannot  be  intended  by  the  word  nechosheth  in  such  passages  as 
Deut.  viii,  9,  and  Job  xxviii,  2.  Copper  is  probably  the  metal  there  referred 
to  as  being  dug  out  of  the  earth.  The  same  word  is  rendered  "steel"  in 
2  Sam.  xxii.  35;  Job  xx,  24;  Psa.  xviii,  34,  and  Jer.  xv,  12.  Inasmuch  as 
copper  is  better  worked  when  alloyed,  and  as  tin  was  known  at  a  very  early 
day,  (see  Num.  xxxi,  22,)  it  is  supposed  that  a  combination  of  these  two 
metals — that  is,  bronze— was  used  in  the  manufacture  of  different  articles. 
Tools,  utensils,  and  ornaments  of  bronze  are  found  among  the  Egyptian  and 
Assyrian  remains.  The  vessels  of  the  Tabernacle,  which  are  represented  in 
our  version  as  made  of  "brass,"  (nechosheth,)  were  probably  either  copper  or 
bronze.  See  Exod.  xxxviii,  2-6,  8. 

595.— PRAYER. 

VI,  10.    His  windows  being   open  in  his   chamber  toward  Jeru 
salem,    he    kneeled    upon    his    knees    three   times    a     day,   and 
prayed,  and  gave   thanks  before  his  God,  as  he    did    aforetime. 

1.  For  the  position  of  this  chamber,  see  note  on  2  Kings  iv,  10. 

2.  He  did  not  look  toward  the  sun,  as  the  fire-worshipers  did,  (see  note 

ran:el.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   A^  D   CUSTOMS.  315 

on  E/ek.  viii,  16.)  but  toward  Jerusalem,  where  the  temple  of  Jehovah 
stoorl,  and  where  the  sacred  Presence  was  in  the  Oracle.  This  seems  to 
have  been  a  custom  among  the  Jews  when  they  wt  re  away  from  the  Holy 
City.  See  1  Kings  viii,  44,48;  2  Chron.  vi,  34;  Psa.  v,  7;  xxviii,  2i 
cxxxviii,  2;  Jonah  ii,  4.  See  also  rote  on  Matt,  iv,  23. 

3.  There  was  no  legal  prescription  in  the  Jewish  ritual  of  any  hours  for 
seasons  of  prayer.  The  hours  of  morning  and  evening  sacrifice  would 
naturally  be  suggested  to  the  mind  of  a  pious  Jew  as  suitable  times  for  prayer. 
To  this  might  easily  be  added  a  time  midway.  This  appears  to  have  been 
the  case  witli  David,  who  says:  "  Evening,  and  morning,  and  at  noon,  will  I 
pray,  and  cry  aloud:  and  he  shall  hear  my  voice."  Psa.  Iv,  IT.  The  order 
in  which  these  three  seasons  of  prayer  are  named  by  the  psalmist  seems  to 
indicate  the  origin  of  the  custom  as  just  suggested.  In  the  text  Daniel  is 
said  to  have  prayed  "  three  times  a  day."  From  Dan.  ix,  21,  it  appears  that 
one  of  these  seasons  of  prayer  was  at  the  time  of  evening  sacrifice  ;  the  two 
others  were  probably  the  same  as  those  mentioned  by  David.  In  later 
limes  the  precise  hour  is  more  clearly  indicated.  Compare  Acts  ii,  15  •  x,  9- 
i  i,  1. 

VI,  15.     Know,  o  king,   that   the  law  of  the  Medes  and   Persians 
is,   That  no  decree  nor  statute  which  the  king  establisheth  may 
be  changed.     See  also  verses  8  and  12. 

1.  Lowth  (W.)  calls  attention  to  an  illustration  of  court  etiquette  con 
tained  in  this  text  as  compared  with  Esther  i,   19.     Here   the  expression 
"  Medes  and  Persians  "  is  used,  the  Medes  being  named  first  because  Darius 

"was  a  Mede.  In  the  other  instance,  in  the  book  of  Esther,  the  expression  is 
"Persians  and  Medes,"  lersians  being  named  first  out  of  compliment  to 
Ahasuerus,  who  was  a  Persian. 

2.  The  strict  etiquette  of  the  Persian  court  obliged  the  king  never  to  re 
voke  an  order  once  given,  however  much  he  might  regret  it,  because  in  so 
doing  he  would  contradict  himself,  and,  according  to  Persian  notions,  the  law 
could  not  contradict  itself.     A  curious  instance  of  the  unchangeable  character 

ie  Medo-Persian  law  is  here  seen  in  the  fact  that,   after  Ahasuerus  had 

issued  the  order  directing  the  cruel  slaughter  of  the  Jews,  (Esther  in,  13.) 

ie  would  not  reverse  it,  even  at  the  urgent  request  of  his  queen,  (Esther 

vm,  5;)  but  ha  issued  another  edict  in  which  he  gran  ed  the  Jews  permis 

sion  "to  gather  themselves  together,  and  to  stand   for  their  life."     Esther 

vni,  11.     Thus  the  first  irreversible  edict  was  completely  neutralized  by 

other  just  as  irreversible  as  itself;  and  the  king  continued  to  act  his  part 

i  character  but  little  short  of  divinity:  infallible,  immutable,  and  wholly 

e  from  the  weakness  of  repentance  I 

816  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Hosea. 

H  O  S  E  A. 


IV,  12.  My  people  ask  counsel  at  their  stocks,  and  their  staff 
declareth.  unto  them. 

Some  commentators  suppose  that  two  distinct  classes  of  divination  are 
here  referred  to,  represented  by  the  words  "stocks"  and  "staff."  If  this 
be  so,  the  former  would  probably  allude  to  the  consultation  of  teraphim. 
See  note  on  Gen.  xxxi,  19.  If  but  one  mode  of  divination  be.  intended,  it  is 
more  definitely  indicated  by  the  latter  word  "staff,"  and  doubtless  refers  to 
rhabdorrancy,  or  divination  by  rods.  According  to  Cyril  of  Alexandria,  this 
custom  had  its  origin  among  the  Chaldeans.  It  was  also  practiced  by  the 
Scythians,  Persians,  Assyrians,  and  Arabians.  In  more  recent  times  it  has 
been  found  among  the  Chinese,  the  Africans,  and  the  New  Zealanders. 
Henderson,  in  his  Commentary  on  Hosea,  suggests  that  the  Runic  wands  of 
the  Scandinavian  nations,  on  which  were  inscribed  mysterious  characters, 
and  which  were  used  for  magical  purposes,  originated  in  this  custom. 
Traces  of  it  may  also  be  found  in  England  and  in  America  in  the  occa 
sional  use  of  willow  rods  for  discovering  hidden  treasure,  or  for  finding 
mines  of  gold  or  silver,  or  wells  of  petroleum. 

There  were  various  methods  of  using  the  rods  in  divination,  the  mode 
differing  in  different  countries.  Herodotus  states  that,  among  the  Scythians, 
the  soothsayer  brought  a  large  bundle  of  rods  and  laid  it  on  the  ground. 
Then,  while  muttering  over  his  prophecy,  he  untied  the  bundle  and  placed 
each  wand  in  a  position  by  itself,  after  which  he  gathered  the  rods  together 
and  tied  them  up  again  into  a  bundle.  A  divine  power  was  supposed  to 
rest  in  the  rods,  and  to  communicate  wisdom  to  the  magician.  The  Scyth 
ians  used  willow  sticks,  the  Persian  Magi  used  tamarisk,  and  carried  the 
magical  bundle  with  them  on  all  occasions  of  ceremony.  The  rods  were  of 
different  length,  and  varied  in  number,  three,  five,  seven,  or  nine,  an  odd 
number  in  every  instance. 

Another  mode  of  using  the  rods  was  for  the  magician  to  hold  one  of  them 
in  his  hand  while  asking  his  questions,  and  then  to  stoop  toward  the  ground 
as  if  to  get  an  answer  from  some  invisible  source.  This  answer  was  always 
inaudible,  and  was  supposed  to  be  made  known  to  the  magician  in  spirit. 
Sometimes  he  leaned  on  the  staff  while  making  his  consultations. 

At  other  times  the  person  consulting  measured  the  rod  by  spans,  or  by 
the  length  of  his  finger,  saying  as  he  measured,  "I  will  go,"  or  •'!  will  not 
go;"  or  else,  "I  will  do,"  or  "I  will  not  do;"  varying  the  phrase  to 
suit  the  circumstances.  In  the  way  that  the  last  span  indicated,  so  he 

flosea.]  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  317 

Some  used  this  method  of  divination  by  taking  a  rod  which  was  peeled  on 
one  side  and  throwing  it  at  a  distance.  As  the  one  or  the  other  side  fell 
uppermost,  so  the  decision  was  made.  In  the  Abbott  Collection  of  Egyptian 
Antiquities  are  seven  pieces  of  wood,  which  were  found  in  a  tomb  at  Sak- 
karah.  Each  stick  is  peeled  in  the  manner  above  stated.  Mr.  Abbott  sup 
posed  them  to  have  been  used  by  children  in  some  ancient  game,  similar  to 
one  now  played  by  the  young  Egyptians.  The  sticks  are  tossed  in  the  air, 
;md  according  to  the  way  in  which  they  fall  the  game  is  won  or  lost.  These 
aucient  sticks  may,  however,  have  been  used  for  divination,  and  the  modern 
game  may  thus  have  had  its  origin.  Lane  describes  a  game  very  common 
among  the  lower  classes  of  Egyptians  in  which  sticks  are  thrown,  one  side 
white  and  the  other  black.  The  game  is  called  "  tab."— See  Modern  Egyp 
tians,  vol.  ii,  pp.  59,  63. 


VII,  12.  "When  they  shall  go,  I  will  spread  my  net  upon  them  ; 
I  will  bring  them  down  as  the  fowls  of  the  heaven. 

Reshdh,  "net,"  in  this  passage  refers  evidently  to  a  net  which  was  used 
to  catch  birds  in  the  air.  How  it  differed  from  other  nets  we  are  unable  to 
say,  and  in  what  manner  it  was  employed  we  can  only  surmise.  From  the 
way  in  which  the  word  is  used  in  Ezek.  xii,  13;  xvii,  20;  xix,  8;  xxxii  3 
the  reskcth  is  supposed  to  have  been  used  to  throw  over  animals  walkino-  On 
the  earth,  as  well  as  to  catch  the  inhabitants  of  the  air.  Jennings  (in 
KITTO'S  Cyclopedia,  article  u Fowling'1)  intimates  that  the  only  use  of  this 
net  was  that  represented  in  the  texts  quoted;  but  from  other  passages  it  is 
clear  that  the  resJteth  was  used  also  as  a  snare  for  the  feet.  See  Job  xviii,  8j 
Psa.  ixt  15;  xxxi,  4:  Ivii,  6;  cxl,  5. 

For  other  modes  of  snaring  birds,  see  note  on  Psa.  xci,  3. 

599.— THE  YOKE. 

XI,  4.  I  drew  them  with  cords  of  a  man,  with  bands  of  love : 
and  I  was  to  them  as  they  that  take  off  the  yoke  on  their 
jaws,  and  I  laid  meat  unto  them. 

This  is  an  agricultural  simile,  and  refers  to  the  custom  of  raising  the  yoke 
from  the  neck  and  cheeks  of  the  oxen  so  that  they  can  more  readily  eat  their 
food.  Henderson  says:  "The  ol,  yoke,  not  only  included  the  piece  of  wood 
on  the  neck  by  which  the  animal  was  fastened  to  the  pole,  but  also  tho 
whole  of  the  harness  about  the  head  which  was  connected  with  it.  The 
yokes  used  in  the  East  are  very  heavy,  and  press  so  much  upon  the  animals 
that  they  are  unable  to  bend  their  necks." — Commentary  in  loco. 

Compare  this  statement  with  what  Jesus  says  about  his  yoke  ia  Matthew 
«,  2^-30. 

20  4 

318  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Hossa. 


XIII,  3.    As  the  smoke  out  of  the  chimney. 

This  rendering  conveys  a  wrong  impression,  since  chimneys  are  compar 
atively  a  modern  invention,  and  were  entirely  unknown  to  the  Hebrews.  In 
an  Oriental  dwelling  the  openings  which  let  in  the  light  are  the  same  that 
lit  out  the  smoke;  though  it  is  said  that  in  some  houses  there  are,  in  addi 
tion  to  the  lattice  windows,  holes  near  the  ceiling  spec:ally  designed 
for  the  escape  of  smoke.  The  fire  being  made  on  the  ';  hearth  "  in  the 
middle  of  the  floor,  (see  the  note  on  Jer.  xxxvi,  22,)  the  smoke  makes 
its  way  upward  through  the  room  and  gets  out  through  such  apertures  as 
it  can  find,  usually  the  windows.  Arubbah,  here  rendered  "  chimney,"  is 
in  other  places  translated  "  window."  It  would  be  much  more  correct  to 
read  this  text,  "as  the  smoke  out  of  the  window,"  remembering  meanwhile 
that  the  window  is  different  from  the  kind  we  are  accustomed  to  see.  See 
note  on  Judges  v,  28. 



II,  6.  They  sold  the  righteous  for  silver,  and  the  poor  for  a 
pair  of  shoes.  See  also  chap,  viii,  6. 

Naal  may  be  rendered  either  "  shoe  "  or  "sandal."  From  the  form  of  ex 
pression  here  used  the  meanest,  cheapest  kind  of  sandal  is  evidently  meant- 
the  poor  debtor  was  sold  into  slavery  because  he  could  not  pay  for  so  small 
a  matter  as  a  pair  of  sandals.  A  similar  mode  of  speech  is  noticed  in  India 
at  the  present  day.  "When  a  person  wishes  to  insult  another  in  reference 
to  the  price  of  any  article  he  says,  '  I  will  give  you  my  sandals  for  it.' 
'  That  fellow  is  not  worth  the  value  of  my  sandals.'  " — ROBERTS,  Oriental 
Illustrations,  p.  504. 

See  further  note  on  Matt,  iii,  11 ;  and  for  a  description  of  sandals,  see  note 
on  Acts  xii,  8. 


II,  8.  They  lay  themselves  down  upon  clothes  laid  to  pledge 
by  'every  altar,  and  they  drink  the  wine  of  the  condemned  in 
the  house  of  their  god. 

Henderson's  translation  gives  the  sense  of  the  passage  more  clearly 
than  the  authorized  version.  He  renders  it :  "  They  stretch  themselves 
upon  pledged  garments  close  to  every  altar,  and  drink  the  wine  of  the 


amerced  in  the  house  of  their  gods."  The  text  refers  to  the  unjust  habits 
aud  to  the  idolatrous  practices  of  the  backslidden  Israelites,  especially  of  those 
.n  authority.  They  took  money  which  they  had  exacted  by  the  imposition  of 
fines,  which  were  in  all  probability  fixed  at  an  amount  higher  than  justice 
demanded,  and  with  it  purchased  wine,  which  is  therefore  called  "  the  wine 
of  the  amerced."  This  wine  they  drank  in  heathen  temples.  In  addition 
to  this  they  took  from  the  poor  as  a  pledge  for  debts  their  outer  garments, 
which  were  their  covering  through  the  night  as  well  as  during  the  day. 
Instead  of  returning  these  at  suu-down,  as  the  law  required,  (Deut.  xxiv,  12  ; 
see  also  the  note  on  that  text,)  they  kept  them  all  night,  and  stretched  them 
selves  upon  them  in  the  heathen  temples.  This  stretching  may  refer  either 
to  the  reclining  at  the  idolatrous  feasts,  or  to  the  custom,  sometimes  practiced 
among  the  heathen,  of  sleeping  near  the  altars  of  their  gods,  that  they 
might  obtain  communications  in  dreams. 

Keil  translates  the  verse :  "  And  they  stretch  themselves  upon  pawned 
clothes  by  every  altar,  and  they  drink  the  wine  of  the  punished  in  the  house 
of  their  God."  He  does  not  believe  that  the  prophet  refers  to  feasts  in  idola 
trous  temples,  but  in  drinking  carousals  which  were  held  in  the  house  of 
God.  He  says  that  "  Amos  had  in  his  mind  the  sacred  places  in  Bethel 
and  Dan,  in  which  the  Israelites  worshiped  Jehovah  as  their  God  under  the 
symbol  of  an  ox,  (calf. ,")— •  Commentary  in  loco. 


Ill,  12.  So  shall  the  children  of  Israel  be  taken  out  that  dwell 
m  Samaria  in  the  corner  of  a  bed,  and  in  Damascus  in  a 

Instead  of  "Damascus,"  some  commentators  read  "damask,"  making  the 
word  refer  to  the  rich  silk-woven  stuff  with  raised  figures  of  flowers  and 
other  patterns,  and  not  to  the  place  where  it  was  made,  and  whence  it  derived 
its  name.  Thus  the  text  would  read,  "a  damask  couch,"  or  "a  couch  of 
damask."  The  allusion  here  is  to  the  luxurious  couches  which  are  on  the 
divan  in  Eastern  houses,  for  a  description  of  which  see  note  on  2  Kings  i,  4. 
The  corner  of  the  divan  is  the  most  convenient  place  for  repose,  and  is  con 
sidered  the  place  of  honor.  Hackett  says:  "A  divan,  which  I  saw  in  the 
palace  of  the  late  Mohammed  Ali  nt  Alexandria,  furnishes  an  apt  commen 
tary  on  this  verse,  it  was  arranged,  after  the  Oriental  fashion,  along  the 
entire  side  of  the  room.  It  was  capable  of  seating  a  great  number  of  per 
sons.  A  covering  of  the  richest  damask  silk  was  spread  over  it,  and  hung 
in  folds  over  the  outward  edge;  while  the  magnificent  cushions,  adorned 
with  threads  of  gold  at  the  corners,  distinguished  those  places  above  the 
others  as  the  seats  of  special  honor."— Scripture  Illustrations,  p.  61. 



604.— PALACES. 

Ill,  15.  And  I  -will  smite  the  'winter-house  with  the  summer- 
house  ;  and  the  houses  of  ivory  shall  perish. 

1.  The  expressions  "  winter-house  "  and  "  summer-house  "  do  not  of  ne 
cessity  imply  two  separate  houses,  but  may  mean  separate  suites  of  apart 
ments  in  the  same  house.     Thomson  says :  "  Such  language  is  easily  under 
stood  by  an  Oriental.     In  common  parlance,  the  lower  apartments  are  simply 
el  beit— the  house:  the  upper  is  the'alliyeh,  which   is  the  summer-house. 
Every  respectable  dwelling  has  both,  and  they  are  familiarly  called  beit 
shetawy  and  beit  seify— winter  and  summer  house.     If  these  are  on  the  same 
Btorj',  then  the  external  and  airy  apartment  is  the  summer-house,  and  that 
for  winter  is  the  interior  and  more  sheltered  room.     It  is  rare  to  meet  a 
family  that  has  an  entirely  separate  dwelling  for  summer."— 77<e  Land  and 
the  Book,  vol.  i,  p.  478.     It  may  have  been  in  the  interior  apartment   that 
Jehoiakim  sat  when  Jehudi  read  the  roll  in  his  presence.     See  Jer.  xxxvi,  22. 

2.  By  "  houses  of  ivory  "  we  are  not  to  understand  houses  built  of  that 
material,  but  houses  richly  ornamented  with  it.     The  ancients  decorated  the 
ceilings,  doors,  and  panels  of  their  rooms  with  ivory.     It  was  in  this  way 
that  Ahab  is  said  to  have  built   an  "  ivory  house."   1  Kings  xxii,  39.     Such 
houses  are  the  "  ivory  palaces  "  mentioned  in  Psa.  xlv,  8. 

6O5.— CHIUN. 

V,  26.    Ye     have    borne    the    tabernacle     of    your    Moloch    and 
Chiun  your  images,    the   star   of  your  god,   which   ye    made   to 

1.  For  a  description  of  Moloch,  see  note  on  Lev.  xviii,  21. 

2.  The  majority  of  those  interpreters  who  suppose  Chiun  to  be  a  proper 
name  take   it    to  mean  the  planet  Saturn.      The  Septuagint  has  Taupdv, 
which  afterward  became  corrupted  to  'PttuQuv,  and  is  so  used  by  Stephen  in 
Acts  vii,  43.     Some  have  assumed  that  'PacQdv  was  an  Egyptian  name  of 
the  planet  Saturn,  but  others  have  denied  this.     Some  commentators  suppose 
that  the  word  is  not  a  proper  name,  but  merely  signifies  a  statue,  an  idol,  or 
a  pedestal  on  which  an  idol  might  be  placed. 


VI,  4.    That    lie   upon    beds    of    ivory,    and    stretch    themselves 
upon  their  couches. 

The  divan  on  which  the  beds  were  spread,  or  the  frames  on  which  they 
rested,  were  inlaid  and  ornamented  with  ivory.  Compare  the  note  on 
"  houses  of  ivory,"  Amos  Hi,  15. 

Amos.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  321 


VI,  12.    Shall  horses  run  upon    the  rock  ? 

This  question  has  no  pertinence  in  our  times,  since,  by  reason  of  being  shod 
with  iron,  our  horses  do  not  injure  their  hoofs  by  running  upon  the  rock. 
Horse-shoeing  was,  however,  unknown  to  the  Hebrews,  and  is  of  compara 
tively  modern  introduction.  Bishop  Lovvth  states  that  the  shoes  of  leather 
and  of  iron  mentioned  by  Greek  and  Roman  writers,  as  well  as  the  silver 
and  the  gold  shoes  with  which  Nero  and  Poppea  shod  their  mules,  inclosed 
the  whole  hoof  as  in  a  case,  or  as  a  shoe  does  a  man's  foot,  and  were  bound 
or  tied  on,  and  even  these  were  exceptional  cases.  In  ordinary  instances  no 
shoes  of  any  kind  were  used.  We  can  thus  see  how,  with  hoofs  unpro 
tected,  the  horses  could  not  be  expected  to  run  upon  a  rock.  No  doubt 
Amos  had  this  in  mind.  Isaiah  also,  in  describing  the  character  of  the 
army  that  should  come  with  destructive  judgments  upon  Judah,  says  that 
"  their  horses'  hoofs  shall  be  counted  like  flint."  Isa.  v,  28.  A  hard  hoof 
must  have  been  a  very  desirable  quality  in  a  horse,  when  the  art  of  pro 
tecting  the  foot  with  iron  shoes  was  unknown. 


VII,  14.     A  gatherer  of  sycamore  fruit. 

This  shows  his  humble  position,  since  none  but  the  poorest  cultivate  or 
use  this  fruit.  Henderson,  speaking  of  the  word  boles,  "gatherer,"  says: 
"  The  particular  mode  in  which  the  ancients  'cultivated  fig-trees  the  LXX 
appear  to  have  had  in  their  eye  when  they  rendered  it  by  Kvt&v,  a  nipper 
or  scratcher;  for  we  are  informed  by  Theophrastus  that  iron  nails  or  prongs 
were  employed  to  make  incisions  or  scratches  in  the  tree,  that,  by  letting  out 
some  of  the  sap,  the  fruit  might  be  ripened." — Commentary  in  loco.  Gesenius 
sustains  this  rendering  of  the  Septuagint,  but  Keil  dissents.  He  says  that 
nipping  cannot  be  shown  to  be  implied  by  the  word  boles,  and  further  declares 
that  the  eating,  and  not  the  cultivation,  of  the  fruit  is  what  is  meant. 

609.— THE  SIEVE. 

IX,  9.  I  will  sift  the  house  of  Israel  among  all  nations,  like  as 
corn  is  sifted  in  a  sieve. 

A  part  of  the  process  of  winnowing  grain  consisted  in  the  use  of  a 
by  which  me.ans  the  particles  of  earth,  and  other  impurities  which  clung  to 
the  com  during  the  process  of  threshing,  were  separated  from  the  grain.  In 
addition  to  this  text,  reference  is  figuratively  made  to  the  sieve  in  Isa. 
xxx,  28,  and  Luke  xxii,  31.  See  also  note  on  Ruth  iii,  2,  and  on  Matt, 
iii.  12. 


322  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Jonah. 



I,  5.  Then  the  mariners  were  afraid,  ajud  cried  every  man 
unto  his  god. 

As  these  sailors  were  probably  Phenicians  from  different  places,  they 
worshiped  different  gods.  Every  man  may  have  had  his  own  special 
deity  to  whom  he  prayed  when  in  trouble.  Roberts  found  illustra 
tions  of  this  text  on  more  than  one  occasion  when  in  a  storm  at  sea  in  a 
vessel  with  a  heathen  crew:  "No  sooner  does  danger  appear  than  one 
begins  to  beat  his  head  and  cry  aloud,  'Siva,  Siva!'  another  beats  his 
breast  and  piteously  shrieks  forth,  '  Vishnoo! '  and  a  third  strikes  his  thigh 
and  shouts  out  with  all  his  might.  'Varuna!'" — Oriental  Illustrations, 
p.  513. 


•  I,  7.    Come,    and   let  us   east  lots,  that  we  may  know  for  whose 
cause  this  evil  is  upon  us. 

1.  On  the  subject  of  lots,  see  note  on  Prov.  xviii,  18. 

2.  It  was  a  common  opinion  among  sailors  that  the  misconduct  of  one  per 
son  might  bring  disaster  on  the  whole  company.     This  notion  still  prevails, 
not  only  among  heathen  mariners,  but  to  some  extent  among  sailors  belong 
ing  to  Christian  nations,  many  of  whom  have   strangely  superstitious  ideas. 
Rosenmiiller  says,  in  illustration  of  this  ancient  opinion:  "Thus,  (according 
to  Cicero,  On  the  Nature  of  the  Gofa,  iii,  37,)  the  sailors  considered  Diagoras 
of  Melos  the  cause  of  the  storm  which  overtook  them  because  he  was  an 
atheist,  and  had  betrayed  the  Eleusinian  mysteries." — Morgenland,  vol.  iv, 
p.  399.  _ 

M  I  C  A  H. 


Ill,  7.  Then  shall  the  seers  be  ashamed,  and  the  diviners 
confounded :  yea,  they  shall  all  cover  their  lips  ;  for  there  is  no 
answer  of  God. 

The  margin  has  "  upper  lip,"  that  is,  the  lip-beard  or  mustache,  as  the 
word  sapham  is  rendered  by  Gesenius  and  others.  The  Hebrews  held  the 
beard  in  high  estimation  as  a  mark  of  manliness.  To  cover  the  lip,  and  thus 
conceal  the  beard  growing  there,  was  a  sign  of  sorrow  or  of  mpurning. 

Thus,  in  the  text,  Micah  represents  the  prophets  as  mourning  because 
God  refuses  to  reveal  himself  to  them :  "  they  shall  all  cover  their  lips." 
Thus  also  the  leper  was  required  to  cover  his  upper  lip.  Lev.  xiii,  45.  An 
pllusion  to  this  custom  is  likewise  made  in  Kzek.  xxiv,  17.  22. 




IV,  4.  They  shall  sit  every  man  under  his  vine,  and  under 
his  fig-tree  ;  and  none  shall  make  them  afraid. 

Tliis  is  a  figurative  expression  used  to  denote  a  state  of  national  peace 
and  domestic  happiness.  See  also  1  Kings  iv,  25,  and  Zech.  iii,  10.  It  is 
based  on  the  custom  of  seeking  a  pleasant,  shade  under  fig-trees  and  vines. 
In  the  East  the  grape-vine  is  more  extensively  used  for  ornament  and  shade 
than  the  woodbine  or  ivy  in  our  own  country.  The  branches  are  frequently 
trained  to  run  over  a  trellis  in  the  court-yard  of  the  house.  The  tig-tree, 
by  its  thick  branches  and  broad  leaf,  makes  a  very  agreeable  natural  shade. 
Nathanael  was  under  a  fig-tree  enjoying  its  shade,  and  engaged  probably  in 
pious  meditation,  when  Philip  fouiid  him  and  brought  him  to  Jesus.  John 
i,  48. 

N  A  H  U  M. 

I,  10.    While  they  are  drunken  as  drunkards. 

Henderson's  translation  is  more  graphic:   "  thoroughly  soaked  with  their 
vviue."     The  prophet  here  has  reference  to  the  drinking  habits  of  the  Niue- 




vites,  of  which  the  monuments  give  abundant  illustration.  Rawlinson  says  : 
"  In  the  banquet-scenes  of  the  sculptures  it  ;s  drinking,  and  not  eating, 
that  is  represented.  Attendants  dip  the  wine-cups  into  a  huge  bowl  or 
vase,  which  stands  on  the  ground  and  reaches  as  high  as  a  man's  chest,  and 
carry  them  full  of  liquor  to  the  guests,  who  straightway  fall  to  a  carouse. 
.  .  .  Every  guest  holds  in  his  right  hand  a  wine-cup  of  a  most  elegant  shape,  the 
lower  part  modeled  into  the  form  of  a  lion's  head,  from  which  the  cup  itself 
rises  in  a  graceful  curve.  They  all  raise  their  cups  to  a  level  with  their 
heads,  and  look  as  if  they  were  either  pledging  each  other  or  else  one  and 
all  drinking  the  same  toast.'' — Five  Great  Monarchies,  vol.  i,  pp.  579,  580. 


II,  3.  The  shield  of  his  mighty  men  is  made  red,  the  valiant 
men  are  in  scarlet :  the  chariots  shall  be  with  flaming  torches 
in  the  day  of  his  preparation,  and  the  fir-trees  shall  be  terribly 

This  is  a  vivid  description  of  ancient  Assyrian  warriors  and  their  equip 

1.  The  shields  may  have  been  reddened  with  paint,  or  with  the  copper 
with  which  they  were- overlaid. 

2.  The  fighting  costume  of  ancient  warriors  was  of  a  Wood -red  color.     It 


is  said  that  one  object  of  this  was  to  conceal  from  the  enemy  the  blood  of 
their  wounds,  the  sight  of  which  might  inspire  them  with  new  courage  and 

3.  By  the  "  flaming  torches  "  of  the  chariots,  Michaelis,  Ewald,  Gesenius, 
and  others,  suppose  to  be  meant  the  fakes  or  scythes  which  were  fastened 

Nahum.]  BIBLE  MANNERS  AM)  CUSTOMS.  325 

to  the  axle,  and  turned  repeatedly  with  every  revolution  of  the  wheel.  Hen 
derson  accordingly  renders  esh-peladoth,  "  fiery  scythes."  The  fire  of  these 
scythes  would  be  coruscations  produced  by  their  excessive  brightness  and 
the  rapidity  of  their  mot'on.  Keil,  however,  (in  his  Commentary,)  objects  to 
this  interpretation  on  the  ground  that  "  scythe-chariots  were  first  introduced 
by  Cyrus,  and  were  unknown  before  his  time  to  the  Medes,  the  Assyrians, 
the  Arabians,  and  also  to  the  ancient  Egyptians."  He  supposes  peladoth 
to  refer  to  the  steel  coverings  of  the  Assyrian  war-chariots,  and  appends 
the  following  interesting  note  from  Strauss:  "  The  chariots  of  the  Assyrians, 
as  we  see  them  on  the  monuments,  glare  with  shining  things  made  either 
of  iron  or  steel,  battle-axes,  bows,  arrow?,  and  shields,  and  all  kinds  of 
weapons ;  the  horses  are  also  ornamented  with  crowns  and  red  fringes,  and 
even  the  poles  of  the  carriages  are  made  resplendent  with  shining  suns  and 
moons;  add  to  these  the  soldiers  in  armor  riding  in  their  chariots,  and  it 
could  not  but  be  the  case  that,  when  illumined  by  the  rays  of  the  sun  above 
them,  they  would  have  all  the  appearance  of  flames  as  they  flew  hither  and 
thither  with  great  celerity."  (See  verse  4,  I.  c.) 

4.  By  the  "fir-trees,"  which  were  to  be  "terribly  shaken,"  are  probably 
meant  the  spetirs,  darts,  and  lances,  which  had  handles  made  of  the  wood  of 
the  cypress. 


Ill,  14.    Go  into  clay,  and.  tread,   the   mortar. 

This  is  an  allusion  to  the  ancient  method  of  tempering  the  clay  for  mak 
ing  bricks.  It  was  done  by  the  feet  of  the  laborer,  and  was  very  severe  and 
fatiguing  labor.  Tit,  "clay,'1  may  also  be  rendered  "mire;"  and  chomer, 
"  mortar,7'  is  not  to  be  understood  here  in  the  sense  of  a  cement  for  bricks, 
but  rather  of  clay.  Henderson  accordingly  translates  the  passage,  "  Enter 
the  mire,  and  tread  the  clay."  Keil  has,  -'Tread  in  the  mire,  and  stamp  the 
clay."  Potter's  clay  was  tempered  in  a  similar  way.  "  He  shall  come  upon 
princes  as  upon  mortar,  and  as  the  potter  treadeth  clay."  Isa.  xli,  25. 



1,16.    They   sacrifice    unto  their    net,   and    burn    incense    unto 
Iheir  drag. 

These  fishing  implements  are  used  figuratively  to  represent  the  weapons 
of  war  by  means  of  which  the  Chaldeans  designed  to  take  the  Jews.     It 

'•  A 

326  BIBLE  MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS.  [Habakkuk. 

was  customary  among  some  ancient  nations  to  offer  sacrifices  to  their  weap 
ons.  The  Scythians  offered  sacrifices  to  a  sword  which  was  set  npas  a  sym 
bol  of  Mars.  Herodotus  says:  "Yearly  sacrifices  of  cattle  and  of  horses  are 
made  to  it,  and  more  victims  are  offered  thus  than  to  all  the  rest  of  their 
gods." — Book  iv,  chap.  Ixii.  Grote,  in  speaking  of  the  same  people,  says:  "  The 
Sword,  in  the  literal  sense  of  the  word,  was  their  chief  god — an  iron 
scimitar  solemnly  elevated  upon  a  wide  and  lofty  platform,  which  was  sup 
ported  on  masses  of  faggots  piled  underneath — to  whom  sheep,  horses,  and 
a  portion  of  their  prisoners  taken  in  war.  were  offered  up  in  sacrifice." 
— History  of  Greece,  part  ii,  chap.  xvii.  The  Hindus,  to  this  day,  make 
offerings  to  their  fishing  tackle,  to  their  weapons,  and  to  their  tools  of  various 


II,  11.  For  the  stone  shall  cry  out  of  the  wall,  and  the  beam 
out  of  the  timber  shall  answer  it. 

Kaphis,  "  beam,"  is  supposed  by  some  to  be  a  cross-beam  for  binding  to 
gether  the  walls  of  a  building.  Jerome  says  it  is  "  the  beam  which  is 
placed  in  the  middle  of  any  building  to  hold  the  walls  together,  and  is  gener 
ally  called  ipdvTuaie  by  the  Greeks."  Henderson,  however,  objects  to  this 
rendering.  He  says:  "  That  it  was  not  the  wood  itself  is  evident  from  the 
following  :  from,  or  out  of  the  wood.'1'1  He  prefers  the  interpretation  given  by 
the  Mishna,  and  followed  by  some  Jewish  writers.  According  to  these 
kaphis ,  signifies  a  half  brick.  Rashi,  the  celebrated  commentator  and 
Talmudist,  explains  it  to  be  "half  a  brick,  which  is  usually  laid  between  two 
layers  of  wood." 

There  are  numerous  evidences  to  show  that  ancient  architects  used  wood 
to  unite  and  bind  walls,  and  it  may  have  been  some  such  custom  to  which 
the  prophet  refers  in  the  text. 

619.— SILENCE. 

II,  20.    But   the   Lord    is    in  his    holy  temple  :     let    all    the  earth 
keep  silence   before  him. 

There  may  be  a  reference  here  to  the  profound  and  impressive  silence 
which  prevails  in  Oriental  courts  among  the  guards  and  officers  who  attend 
upon  royal  personages. 


III,  9.    Thy  bow  was   made  quite   naked. 

The  bow  was  often  kept  in  a  case  made  of  leather  or  of  cloth.  To  make 
it  "naked  "  meant  to  take  it  out  of  its  case  in  order  to  use  it.  The  expres 
sion  signifies  a  preparation  for  war,  and  is  of  the  same  meaning  as  "  uncov 
ering  the  shield."  See  note  on  Isa.  xxii,  6. 

Zephaniah.J  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  327 


621.— THE    CHEMARIM. 

I,  4.  I  will  cut  jff  the  remnant  of  Baal  from  this  place,  and 
the  name  of  the  Chemarim  with  the  priests. 

The  word  ckemarim,  here  untranslated,  occurs  also  in  2  Kings  xxiii,  5, 
where  it  is  rendered  "idolatrous  priests;"  and  in  Hosea  x,  5,  where  it  is 
rendered  "priests."  Tt  signifies  the  priests  of  idolatrous  worship.  Keil 
does  not  include  in  the  term  the  priests  of  Baal,  but  limits  its  application  to 
"  the  priests  appointed  by  the  Kings  of  Jndah  for  the  worship  of  the  high 
places  and  the  idolatrous  worship  of  Jehovah  " — Commentary  in  loco.  Gese- 
nius  thinks  it  is  derived  from  Jcamar,  to  be  burned,  to  be  sad,  and  that  it  refers 
to  the  black  garments  worn  by  priests.  Some,  however,  think  this  idea  too 
modern  for  adoption.  Keil  says  that  this  derivation  "  is  decidedly  opposed  by 
the  fact,  that  neither  the  priests  of  the  idols  nor  of  the  high  places  were 
ascetics  or  monks,  and  in  ancient  times  the  priests  from  India  to  Gaul  wore 
robes  of  a  white,  and  if  possible  of  a  brilliant  white,  color.  Compare  BAHR'S 
Symbol.,  ii,  p.  '87,  f,  and  the  works  there  quoted." — Commentary  on  2  Kings 
xxiii,  5. 

Z  EC  H  A  R  I  AH. 


I,  7.    The  eleventh   month,   which    is  the   month  Sebat. 
Sebat  corresponds  very  nearly  to  our  month  of  February. 


XII,  3.  And  in  that  day  will  I  make  Jerusalem  a  burdensome 
stone  for  all  people :  all  that  burden  themselves  with  it  shall 
be  cut  in  pieces. 

Jerome  supposes  an  allusion  here  to  a  custom  common  in  Judeain  his  day, 
and  which  he  thinks  was  known  in  the  time  of  Zechariah.  The  young  men 
were  in  the  habit  of  lifting  heavy  stones  for  exercise,  and  for  a  display  of 
strength.  They  lifted  them  to  various  heights,  according  to  the  weight  of  the 
stones  and  their  own  strength :  to  the  knees,  the  breast,  the  top  of  the  head, 
and  even  above  the  head,  at  arms'  length.  Jerusalem  is  declared  by  the 
prophets  to  be  such  a  "burdensome  stone"  that  whosoever  should  under 
take  to  lift  it  would  be  destroyed  by  its  weight. 

Most  commentators  have  followed  Jerome's  interpretation,  though  some 
prefer  to  think  that  the  reference  is  made  merely  to  a  heavy  stone  used  in 

•  4 





XII,  12.  And.  the  land  shall  mourn,  every  family  apart  ;  the 
family  of  the  house  of  David  aoart,  and  their  wives  apart. 

According  to  the  Jewish  custom,  not  only  did  the  men  and  women  dwell 
in  separate  apartments,  but  they  also  worshiped  separately.  In  this  text,  the 
trouble  that  is  to  come  upon  the  land  is  so  great  that  every  family  shall  be 
in  mourning,  the  men  mourning  by  themselves,  and  the  women  in  like  man 
ner  lamenting  together. 


XIV,  20.  In  that  day  shall  there  be  upon  the  bells  of  the 
horses,  Holiness  unto  the  Lord. 

It  was  quite  common  among  ancient  nations  to  have  bells  hung  around 
the  necks  of  horses,  both  by  way  of  ornament  and  to  accustom  the  war-horses 
to  noise.  At  the  present  time  bells  are  used  in  caravans  for  horses  and 

camels  ;  sometimes  being  strung  around  the  legs,  as  well  as  suspended  from 
the  neck.  They  are  designed,  not  only  for  ornament,  but  also  to  encourage 
the  animals  by  their  sound,  to  frighten  beasts  of  prey,  and  to  keep  the 
caravan  together. 

Some  suppose  that  metsilloth,  "  bells,"  were  small  pieces  of  metal  resem 
bling  cymbals,  which  made  a  tinkling  noise  by  collision  as  the  horses 





626.— FULLING. 
Ill,  2.    He  is  like  a  refiner's  fire,  and  like  fullers'  soap. 

The  precise  character  of  all  the  articles  used  by  the  ancient  fullers  is 
unknown.  They  had 
mineral  alkali  in  niter, 
to  which  reference  is 
made  in  Prov.  xxv,  20, 
and  Jer.  ii,  22.  They 
obtained  vegetable  al 
kali,  as  the  Arabs  do 
ut  the  present  time, 

from    the    ashes    of      ,-,,,    ,,,,  ^;;,_~  ., 

some  plants  and  from  _L^>-Iifo j 
the  juices  of  others.  130. — ANCIENT  EGYPTIAN  FULLERS  AT  WORK. 

They  likewise  used,   for  cleansing  their  cloth,  urine   and  chalk,  and  bean- 
meal  mixed  with  water. 

The  cloths  are  thought  to  have  been  first  trodden  by  the  feet.  They  were 
also  rubbed  with  the  knuckles.  A  subsequent  operation  probably  consisted 
in  rubbing  the  cloth  on  an  inclined  plane,  after  the  manner  still  followed  in 
the  East,  and  one  which  was  common  among  the  ancient  Egyptians. 


III,  16.     A    book   of  remembrance  was   written  before    him    for 
them  that  feared  the  Lord,  and  that  thought  upon  his  name. 

The  metaphor  is  supposed  to  be  taken  from  the  ancient  Persian  custom  cf 
keeping  a  record  of  the  names  and  deeds  of  any  who  had  rendered  special 
service  to  the  king.  It  was  in  this  way  that  the  faithfulness  of  Mordecai  in 
revealing  to  Ahasuerus  the  plot  against  his  life  was  recorded  and  filed 
among  the  records  of  the  court.  See  Esther  vi,  1,  2. 


IV,  8.    And    ye   shall    tread  down    the    wicked  ;    for   they    shall 
be  ashes  under  the  soles  of  your  feet. 

Chardin  supposes  that  allusion  is  here  made  to  the  mode  of  making  mor 
tar  in  the  East.  One  kind  is  made  of  a  mixture  of  sand,  ashes,  and  lime, 
which  ingredients  are  mixed  by  being  trodden.  See  note  on  Lev.  xiv,  42, 
and  also  on  Nahum  iii,  14.  There  is  also  reference  to  the  custom  of  putting 
the  feet  on  conquered  enemies,  for  an  account  of  which  see  note  on  1  Cor. 
xv,  25. 

330  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Matthew. 


I,  18.    Mary  was  espoused  to  Joseph. 

Espousal  among  the  Hebrews  was  something  more  than  what  a  mere 
marriage  engagement  is  with  us.  It  was  considered  the  beginning  of  mar 
riage,  was  as  legally  binding  as  marriage  itself,  and  could  not  be  broken  off 
save  by  a  bill  of  divorce.  Hence  we  find  that  Joseph  is  called  the  "  hus 
band  "  of  Mary,  (verse  19.)  The  betrothal  was  usually  determined  by  the 
parents  or  brothers  of  the  parties,  and  the  engagement  was  made  between  a 
friend  or  legal  representative  of  the  bridegroom  and  the  father  of  the  bride. 
The  espousals  were  made  very  early  in  life,  though  marriage  did  not  take 
place  before  the  bride  was  twelve  years  old.  Even  when  the  age  was  suit 
able,  the  marriage  was  not  consummated  for  some  time  after  the  betrothal. 
See  Judges  xiv,  8.  At  least  a  year,  or  sometimes  more,  elapsed  between 
the  betrothal  and  the  marriage  of  a  maiden,  to  give  time  for  preparing  her 
outfit.  In  case  of  a  widow  marriage  might  take  place  thirty  days  after 
espousal.  The  betrothal  was  usually  accompanied  by  a  feast  in  the  house 
of  the  bride. 

The  engagement,  to  be  binding,  must  be  either  by  written  contract,  or  by 
the  reception  of  presents  by  the  bride  from  the  bridegroom.  When  Abra 
ham's  servant  received  the  consent  of  Rebekah's  father  and  brother  to  make 
her  the  wife  of  his  master's  son,  he  presented  1o  the  maiden  valuable  gifts. 
See  Gen.  xxiv,  53.  The  reception  of  these  made  the  contract  binding.  The 
bride  remained  at  her  father's  house  until  the  tirm  of  marriage,  when  the 
bridegroom  came  after  her.  This  custom  is  referred  to  in  Deut  xx,  7. 
Meanwhile  commi  nicatiou  between  her  and  the  bridegroom  was  kept  up 
by  means  of  the  "  friend  of  the  bridegroom."  See  note  on  John  iii,  29. 

63O.—THE  MAGI. 

II,  1.  Now  when  Jesus  was  born  in  Bethlehem  of  Judea  in 
the  days  of  Herod  the  king,  behold,  there  came  wise  men 
from  the  East  to  Jerusalem. 

These  "  wise  men,"  or,  more  properly,  magi,  (udyot,)  belonged  to  a 
numerous  and  influential  order  of  men.  The  origin  of  Magism  is  involved 
in  obscurity.  It  is  thought  to  have  had  its  beginning  among  either  the 
Chaldeans  or  the  Assyrians;  more  probably  among  the  former.  Starting  in 
Chaldea,  it  would  naturally  make  its  way  to  Assyria,  Media,  and  the  adjoin 
ing  countries.  From  Media  it  was  brought  into  Persia,  where  it  exerted  a 
powerful  influence  in  modifying  the  ancient  religious  faith  of  the  people. 
Some  profess  to  trace  the  Magian  doctrines  to  Abraham,  who,  it  is  said,  if  he 




did  not  originate  them,  at  least  purified  them  from  the  errors  of  Zabaism. 
See  note  on  Deut.  iv,  19.  After  Abraham's  time  they  became  corrupted, 
»nd  were  again  purified  by  Zoroaster,  who  is 
supposed  to  have  been  a  descendant  of  the 
prophet  Daniel. 

We  find  in  the  Old  Testament  several  ref 
erences  to  the  Magi.  In  Jer.  xxxix,  3,  13.  Ner- 
gal-sharezer  is  said  to  have  been  the  Rob-mag, 
that  is,  the  chief  of  the  Magi.  His  name  is  sup 
posed  to  be  recorded  in  the  Babylonian  inscrip 
tions,  where  mention  is  made  of  Nergal-shar-uzur, 
who  is  styled  Rabu-emga  or  Rob  mag.  The  chak- 
amim,  or  "  wise  men,"  referred  to  in  Jer.  1,  35, 
were  probably  Magi. 

In  Daniel's  time  the  Magi  were  very  prominent 
in  Babylon.  In  Dan.  ii,  2,  "  magicians,"  "  astrolo 
gers,"  "  sorcerers,"  and  "  Chaldeans  "  are  men 
tioned  ;  while  in  the  twenty-seventh  verse  of  the 
same  chapter  "  soothsayers  "  are  named.  These 
are  represented  by  five  different  words 
original,  and  some  writers 


in   the 
that  five  dis- 

131.—  CHALDEAN 

tract  classes  of  Magi  are  here  referred  to.  It  is  difficult,  however,  at  this 
late  day  to  specify  the  difference  between  them,  though  the  attempt  has 
sometimes  been  made. 

It  has  been  supposed  from  Dan.  v,  II,  compared  with  ii,  48,  and  iv,  9, 
that  Daniel  himself  was  made  a  member  of  the  Magian  order,  and  its  chief; 
but  the  expressions  there  used  may  only  mean  that  the  king  regarded  him 
as  superior  to  all  the  magicians  in  his  dominion,  and  as  having  authority 
over  them.  In  any  case,  we  cannot  believe  that  Daniel  embraced  any 
theological  notions  of  the  Magi  which  were  in  opposition  to  Hebrew 

An  account  of  the  worship  practiced  by  the  Magi  of  Media  will  give  us 
some  idea  of  the  peculiarities  of  the  order.  Rawlinson  says:  "  Mag-ism  was 
essentially  the  worship  of  the  elements,  the  recognition  of  fire,  air,  earth, 
and  water  as  the  only  proper  objects  of  human  reverence.  The  Magi  held 
no  personal  gods,  and,  therefore,  naturally  rejected  temples,  shrines,  and 
images,  as  tending  to  encourage  the  notion  that  gods  existed  of  a  like  nature 
with  man;  that  is,  possessing  personality  —  living  and  intelligent  beings. 
Theirs  was  a  nature  worship,  but'a  nature  worship  of  a  very  peculiar  kind. 
They  did  not  place  gods  over  the  different  parts  of  nature,  like  the  Greeks  ; 
they  did  not  even  personify  the  powers  of  nature,  like  the  Hindoos  ;  they 
paid  their  devotion  to  the  actual  material  things  themselves.  Fire,  as  the 

332  BIBLE   MANNERS  A  UD   CUSTOMS.  [Matthew. 

most  subtle  and  ethereal  principle,  and  again  as  the  most  powerful  agent, 
attracted  their  highest  regards ;  and  on  their  fire-altars  the  sacred  flame, 
generally  said  to  have  been  kindled  from  heaven,  was  kept  burning  uninter 
rupted  from  year  to  year  and  from  age  to  age  by  bands  of  priests,  whose 
special  duty  it  was  to  see  that  the  sacred  spark  was  never  extinguished." 
— Five  Ancient  Monarchies,  vol.  ii,  p.  346. 

The  Magians  were  a  priestly  caste,  and  the  office  is  supposed  to  have  been 
hereditary.  They  uttered  prophecies,  explained  omens,  interpreted  dreams, 
and  practiced  rhabdomaucy  or  divination  by  rods.  See  note  on  Hosea  iv.  12. 
Their  notion  of  the  peculiar  sanctity  of  the  so-called  elements  led  to  a  singular 
mode  of  disposing  of  the  bodies  of  the  dead.  See  note  on  Psa.  Ixxix,  2. 

In  Persia  they  became  a  powerful  body  under  the  guide  of  Zoroaster,  and 
were  divided  into  three  classes:  Herberts,  or  disciples ;  Mobeds.  or  masters; 
and  Deslur-mobeds,  or  perfect  masters.  After  a  time  the  term  Magi  became 
more  extended  in  its  meaning.  As  the  Magi  were  men  of  learning,  devoting 
special  attention  to  astronomy  and  the  natural  sciences,  it  happened  that, 
after  the  lapse  of  years,  men  who  became  celebrated  for  learning  were  called 
Magi,  whether  belonging  to  the  priestly  order  or  not.  So,  as  the  Magi 
joined  to  the  pursuits  of  science  the  arts  of  the  soothsayer,  in  process  of 
time  mere  conjurors  who  had  no  scientific  knowledge  were  called  Magi. 
Simon  Magus  (Acts  viii,  9)  and  Bar-Jesus  or  Elymas  (Acts  xiii,  6,  8)  were 
men  of  this  sort. 

The  Magi  who  came  1o  visit  the  infant  Saviour  were  no  doubt  of  the 
better  class.  The  idea,  however,  that  they  were  kings  and  three  in  number 
is  mere  imagination,  and  unsusceptible  of  proof.  They  were  evidently 
skilled  in  astronomical  knowledge,  and  were  earnest  seekers  after  the  new 
born  king.  Where  they  came  from  is  a  disputed  question.  Various  writers 
have  suggested  that  they  were  Babylonians,  Arabians,  Persians,  Bactrians, 
Parthians,  or  even  Brahmins  from  India.  Matthew  says  they  were  from 
"the  East,"  which  was  a  geographical  term  of  very  elastic  meaning. 

One  of  the  best  dissertations  on  this  subject  is  a  monograph  by  Dr. 
Upham,*  who  claims  a  Persian  nationality  for  these  Magi.  His  opinion  is 
indorsed  by  some  of  the  best  recent  biblical  critics. 

631.— THE  STAR  OF  THE  KING. 

II,  2.  Where  is  he  that  is  born  King  of  the  Jews?  for  -we 
have  seen  his  star  in  the  east,  and  are  come  to  worship  him. 

When  the  preparations  were  making  for  the  coronation  of  Solyman  III.  as 
king  of  Persia  in  1666,  the  astrologers  had  very  important  duties  assigned 
them,  according  to  the  custom  of  their  country.  Sir  John  Chardin,  who  was 

"The  Wise  Men:  Who  they  Were;  and  How  they  Came  to  Jerusalem.  By  Francis  W. 
Dpham,  LL.D.  New  York,  1873. 

Matthew.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AXD   CUSTOMS.  333 

present,  says  that  these  astrologers  were  appointed  <;  to  observe  the  lucky 
hour,  according  to  the  position  of  the  stars,  for  the  performance  of  this 
weighty  ceremony."—  Coronation  of  Solyman  III.,  p.  36. 

The  wise  men  mentioned  in  the  text  may  have  supposed,  from  what  they 
had  seen  of  the  star,  that  it  was  a  favorable  time  for  the  coronation  of  the 
new-born  King,  and  hence  they  came  to  worship  him. 


IK,  4.  The  same  John  had  his  raiment  of  camel's  hair, 
and  a  leathern  girdle  about  his  loins  ;  and  his  meat  was 
locusts  and  wild  honey.  See  also  Mark  i,  6. 

1.  The  "raiment  of  camel's  hair"  was  a  coarse,  rough  outer  garment,  such 
as  is  still  worn  by  the   Arabs.     It  is  made  of  the  thin  coarse  hair  of  the 
camel.     Some  think,  because  Elijah  is  called  "  a  hairy  man  "  in  2  Kings  i,  8, 
that  he  wore  a  garment  of  this   sort.     A  rough  garment  seems  to  have 
been  characteristic  of  a  prophet.     See  Zech.  xiii,  4. 

2.  For  a  description  of  the  girdle,  see  note  on  1  Kings  xviii,  46. 

3.  With  many  of  the  Bedawin  on  the  frontiers  locusts  are  still  an  article 
of  food,  though  none  but  the  poorest  eat  them.     They  are  considered  a  very 
inferior  sort  of  food.     They  are  salted  and  dried,  and  eaten  with  butter  or 
with  wild  honey.     The  fact  that  John  ate  this  kind  of  food  illustrates  the  ex 
treme  poverty  of  the  forerunner  of  Christ,  and   shows  the  destitution  he 
suffered  by  living  in  the  wilderness  far  away  from  the  haunts  of  men. 


Ill,  11.  He  that  cometh  after  me  is  mightier  than  I,  whose 
shoes  I  am  not  worthy  to  bear. 

To  carry  the  master's  sandals  was  considered  the  most  menial  duty  that 
could  be  performed.  On  entering  a  house  the  sandals  are  taken  off  by  a 
servant,  who  takes  care  of  ihem,  and  brings  them  again  when  needed.  In 
India  it  is  customary  for  a  servant  to  accompany  his  master  when  he  walks 
out.  If  the  master  desires  to  walk  barefoot  on  the  soft  grass  or  the  smooth 
ground  the  servant  removes  the  sandals  and  carries  them  in  his  hand. 
John  felt  himself  unworthy  to  do  for  Christ  even  the  meanest  work  of  a 

See  also  note  on  John  i.  27. 


111,12.  Whose  fan  is  in  his  hand,  and  he  will  thoroughly 
purge  his  floor,  and  gather  his  wheat  into  the  garner  ;  but  he 
will  burn  up  the  chaff  with  unquenchable  fire.  See'  also  Luke 
iii,  17. 

The  grain  in  the  East  is  threshed  in  the  open  air.  (see  note  on  Gen.  1, 10.) 
by  being  trampled  under  the  feet  of  oxen  or  horses,  (see  note  on  Dout 

21  4 

334  BIBLE   MANNERS    A.ND   CUSTOMS.  [Matthew. 

xxv,  4,)  or  bv  means  of  instruments,  as  described  in  the  note  on  Tsa. 
xxviii,  27,  28.  By  these  processes  the  straw  becomes  very  much  broken ; 
and,  to  separate  the  grain  from  the  hulls  and  straw  the  mingled  mass  is 
thrown  against  the  wind  by  means  of  a  wooden  shovel,  or  else  a  wooden 
fork,  having  sometimes  two  prongs  and  sometimes  three,  and  a  handle  three 
or  four  feet  long.  This  is  the  "  fan  "  alluded  to  in  a  number  of  Scripture 
passages.  It  is  usually  employed  in  the  evening.  See  note  on  Ruth  iii,  2. 
The  wind  carries  the  chaff  away,  while  the  grain  fails  to  the  ground.  The 
grain  is  sometimes  sifted  after  the  winnowing.  See  note  on  Amos  ix,  9. 
The  chaff  is  burned  and  the  grain  is  stored,  either  in  subterranean  granaries 
(see  note  on  Jer.  xli,  8)  or  in  barns.  See  note  on  Gen.  xli,  48. 

The  fan  is  referred  to  in  Isa.  xxx,  24,  where  it  is  mentioned  in  connec 
tion  with  the  "  shovel."  The  precise  difference  between  the  two  instruments 
there  indicated  is  not  now  known.  See  also  Jer.  iv,  11 ;  xv,  7  ;  li,  2.  The 
scattering  of  the  chaff  by  the  wind  after  fanning  is  frequently  alluded  to 
figuratively.  See  Job  xxi,  18 ;  Psa.  i,  4;  Isa.  xxix,  5;  xli,  ]6;  Dan.  ii,  35; 
Hos.  xiii,  3. 


IV,  5.  Then  the  devil  taketh  him  up  into  the  holy  city,  and 
setteth  him  on  a  pinnacle  of  the  temple.  See  also  Luke  iv,  9. 

This  is  commonly  supposed  to  have  been  the  summit  of  the  royal  gallery 
built  by  Herod  within  the  area  of  the  temple  buildings  on  the  edge  of  the 
Kedron  valley.  Josephus  says  of  it:  "This  cloister  deserves  to  be  mentioned 
better  than  any  other  under  the  sun ;  for,  while  the  valley  was  very  deep, 
nnd  its  bottom  could  not  be  seen  if  you  looked  from  above  into  the  depth, 
tin's  farther  vastly  high  elevation  of  the  cloister  stood  upon  that  height,  inso 
much  that  if  any  one  looked  down  from  the  top  of  the  battlements,  or  down 
both  those  altitudes,  he  would  be  giddy,  while  his  sight  could  not  reach  to 
such  an  immense  depth.'1— Antiquities,  Book  XV,  chap,  xi,  §  5.  The  extreme 
distance  from  the  top  of  the  battlement  to  the  bottom  of  the  valley  is  sup 
posed  to  have  been  about  seven  hundred  feet.  See  also  note  on  Matt,  xxiv,  1. 


IV.  23.    Teaching  in   their  synagogues,   and  preaching  the   gos 
pel  of  the  kingdom.     See  also  Mark  i,  39;  Luke  iv,  44. 

Jewish  writers  claim  for  the  synagogue  a  very  remote  antiquity,  but  its 
origin  probably  dates  during  the  captivity.  There  were  no  fixed  proportions 
in  the  bivlding,  as  there  were  in  the  tabernacle  and  in  the  temple.  "When  a 
synagogue  was  to  be  built  the  highest  ground  that  could  be  found  in  the 
vicinity  was  selected  for  the  si'e.  and.  if  possible,  the  top  was  erected  above 

Matthew.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  335 

the  roofs  of  surrounding  buildings.  Where  this  could  not  be  done  a  tall 
pole  was  placed  on  the  summit  in  order  to  make  the  building  conspicuous. 
Synagogues  were  often  built  without  roofs.  They  were  also  so  constructed 
that  the  worshipers,  as  they  entered  and  prayed,  faced  Jerusalem.  See  note 
on  Dan.  vi,  10.  At  the  Jerusalem  end  was  the  chest  or  ark  which  contained 
the  book  of  the  law.  Toward  the  middle  of  the  building  was  a  raised  plat 
form,  and  in  the  center  of  the  platform  was  a  pulpit.  A  low  partition  five  or 
six  feet  high  divided  the  men  from  the  women. 

The  leading  object  of  the  synagogue  was  not  worship,  but  instruction. 
The  temple  was  "  the  house  of  prayer."  Matt,  xxi,  13.  The  synagogue  was 
never  called  by  that  name.  Reading  and  expounding  the  law  was  the  great 
business  of  the  synagogue :  and,  though  a  liturgical  service  was  connected 
with  these,  it  was  subordinate  to  them. 

The  priests  had  no  official  standing  or  privileges  in  the  synagogue,  though 
they  were  always  honored  when  present.  They  were  the  hereditary  officials 
ot  the  temple,  but  the  officers  of  the  synagogue  were  elected  either  by  the 
congregation  or  by  the  council. 

The  leader  of  the  congregation  might  ask  any  suitable  person  to  address 
the  assembly.  Persons  who  were  known  as  learned  men,  or  as  ihe  expound 
ers  of  religious  faith,  were  allowed  to  speak.  Hence  in  the  text  and  in  the 
parallel  passages  we  find  Christ  publicly  speaking  in  the  synagogue.  See 
also  Matt,  xiii,  54;  Mark  vi,  2;  Luke  iv,  15;  iv,  16-22;  John  xviii,  20.  So 
also  the  apostles  on  their  missionary  journey  addressed  the  people  in  these 
places  of  public  gathering.  See  Acts  xiii,  5,  15;  xiv,  1 ;  xvii,  10,11; 
xvii,  17  ;  xviii,  19. 


V,  13.  If  the  salt  have  lost  his  savor,  wherewith  shall  it  be 
salted  ?  it  is  thenceforth  good  for  nothing,  but  to  be  east  out, 
and  to  be  trodden  under  foot  of  men.  See  also  Luke  xiv,  34,  35. 

Salt  produced  by  the  evaporation  of  sea-water  in  hot  countries  is  said  some 
times  to  lose  its  saline  properties.  The  same  result  is  also  sometimes  seen 
in  impure  rock-salt  that  has  long  been  exposed  to  the  air.  When  such  is 
the  case  there  can  nothing  be  done  with  it  but  to  throw  it  out  into  the 
highway,  where  men  and  beasts  trample  it  down.  Dr.  Thomson  tells  of  some 
salt  which  was  brought  from  the  marshes  of  Cyprus  by  a  merchant  of  Sidoii, 
and  stored  in  small  houses  with  earthen  floors.  "  The  salt  next  the  ground 
in  a  few  years  entirely  spoiled.  I  saw  large  quantities  of  it  literally  thrown 
into  the  street,  to  be  trodden  under  foot  of  men  and  beasts.  It  was  good  for 
nothing."—  The  Land  and  the  Boole,  vol.  ii,  p.  43.- 

Schottgen  supposes  reference  is  here  made  to  the  bituminous  salt  from  the 
Dead  Sea,  which,  he  say3,  was  strewn  over  the  sacrifices  in  the  temple  to 




neutralize  the  smell  of  the  burning  flesh,  and  when  it  became  spoiled 
by  exposure  it  was  cast  out  upon  the  walks  to  prevent  slipping  in  wet 
weather,  and  was  thus  literally  "trodden  under  foot  of  men." 


V,   15.    Neither    do    men     light    a    candle,    and    put   it   under    a 
bushel,  but  on   a   candlestick.     See  also  Mark  iv,  21 ;  Luke  viii,  16;  xi,  38. 

1.  "  Lamp  "  would  be  a  better  word  here  than  "  candle,"  siuce  oil  is  what 
was  used  for  illuminating  purposes  in  Palestine.     Though  frequent  reference 

is  made  in  Scripture 
to  the  lamp,  no  de 
scription  of  it  is  given. 
Many  ancient  lamps 
of  various  shapes  and 
material  have  been 
preserved  to  the  pres 
ent  time,  and  doubt 
less  give  some  idea  of 
'  the  sort  of  lamp  used 
±  in  our  Saviour's  time. 
The  Egyptian  monu 
ments  have  also  repre 
sentations  of  still  ear 
lier  lamps,  such  as 
were  probably  used  by 
the  "Hebrews. 

The  common  lamps  among  the  Greeks  and  Romans  were  made  of  clay, 
the  more  costlyones  of  bronze,  and  even  sometimes  of  gold.  Some  of  these 
were  very  beautiful.  Most  of  the  lamps  were  oval  in  shape 
and  flat  on  top,  on  which  there  were  often  figures  in  relief. 
A  wick  floated  in  the  oil  or  passed  through  holes  in  the  lamp. 
The  lamps  received  different  names  according  to  the  number 
of  holes  which  they  had  for  the  wicks. 

See  Job  xviii,  6;   Prov.  xxxi,  18;  Jer.  xxv,  10:  Zeph.  i,  12; 
I. uke  xv,  8.     See  further  note  on  Matt,  xxv,  3. 

2.  M6(5iOf,   "bushel,"  represents  the  chief  Roman  dry-meas 
ure,  the  modius.     Its  capacity  is  reckoned  at  nearly  one  peck, 
English  measure. 

3.  The  candlestick  or  lamp-stand  was  as  varied  in  shape  and 
quality  as  the  lamp.     The  rudest  sort   was  to  be  found  some 
times  in  houses  with  mud   walls,    where,   in    building  up  Ihe    i33_AN 
wall,  a  portion  of  the  clay  was  suffered  to  bulge    out   into  the     LAMI'-^IA-D 


Mitthew.]  BT15LE    MANNERS   AND    CUSTOMS.  337 

room  at  a  suitable  height.  It  was  then  hollowed;  and,  when  the  house  wag 
finished,  the  hollow  was  filled  with  oil,  and  a  wick  was  made  to  float  in  it. 
This  contrivance  combined  lamp  and  lamp-stand  in  one  utensil.  The  ordi 
nary  lamp-stands  were  made  of  wood ;  the  better  kinds,  of  bronze.  They 
were  of  various  heights,  and  some  of  them  of  very  beautiful  form  and  work 
manship.  The  lamp-stand  is  also  referred  to  in  Rev.  ii.  5. 

639.— JOT  AND  TITTLE. 

V,  18.  One  jot  or  one  tittle  shall  in  no  wise  pass  from  the  law, 
till -all  be  fulfilled.  See  also  Luke  xvi,  17. 

There  may  be  allusion  here  to  the  great  care  taken  by  the  copyists  of  the 
law  to  secure  accuracy  even  to  the  smallest  letters,  or  curves  or  points  of 
letters.  'Iwra,  "jot,"  refers  to  the  yodh,  i,  the  smallest  letter  in  the  Hebrew- 
alphabet;  Kspaia,  "tittle,"  is  an  apex  or  little  horn,  and  refers  to  the  horn-like 
points  which  are  seen  on  Hebrew  letters,  for  example,  ^>  T»  Mi  Hi  "V  ^  's 
worthy  of  remark  that  the  yodh  has  one  of  these  points,  and  the  meaning 
of  the  text  may  be,  "  Not  even  a  yodh,  nor  the  point  of  a  yodh.'1'  The  text  under 
consideration  is  sometimes  cited  to  prove  that,  in  the  time  of  Christ,  copies 
of  the  law  were  written  in  the  "  square  character." 

Sometimes  curved  extensions  resembling  horns  are  attached  to  the  letters 
by  the  copyists  for  ornamentation.  Prof.  Hackett  found  in  one  of  the  syna 
gogues  at  Safet  a  scribe  engaged  in  making  a  copy  of  the  law.  He  says: 
"  A  more  elegant  Hebrew  manuscript,  a  more  perfect  specimen  of  the  calli 
graphic  nrt,  I  never  saw  than  that  executed  by  this  Jewish  amanuensis. 
No  printed  page  could  surpass  it  in  the  beauty,  symmetry,  and  distinctness 
with  which  the  characters  were  drawn.  One  peculiarity  that  struck  me  at 
once,  as  I  cast  my  eye  over  the  parchment,  was  the  horn-like  appearance 
attached  to  some  of  the  letters.  I  had  seen  the  same  mark  before  this  in 
Hebrew  manuscripts,  but  never  where  it  was  so  prominent  as  here.  The 
sign  in  question,  as  connected  with  the  Hebrew  letter  Lamedh  \^\  in  par 
ticular,  had  almost  the  appearance  of  an  intentional  imitation  of  a  ram's 
head." — Illustrations  of  Scripture,  p.  225. 

Dr.  Ginsburg,  in  Kitto's  Cyclopedia,  (s.  v.,  JOT  AND  TITTLE,)  expresses  the 
opinion  that  the  ."  tittle "  refers  to  certain  small  ornaments  which  the 
Talmudists  were  accustomed  to  place  upon  the  tops  of  letters.  They  attached 
great  importance  to  these  ornaments,  though  they  formed  no  special  part  of 
the  letters. 


V,  25.  Agree  with  thine  adversary  quickly,  while  thou  art  in 
the  way  with  him  ;  lest  at  any  time  th@  adversary  deliver 
thee  to  the  judge.  See  also  Luke  xii,  58. 

According  to  the  Roman  law,  if  a  person  had  a  quarrel  which  ho  could  not 
settle  privately  he  had  the  right  to  order  his  adversary  io  accompany  him  to 


338  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  [Matthew. 

the  praetor.  If  he  refused,  the  prosecutor  took  some  one  present  to  wit 
ness  by  saying,  "May  I  take  you  to  witness?"  If  the  person  consented 
he  offered  the  tip  of  his  ear,  which  the  prosecutor  touched ;  a  form  wh'ch 
was  observed  toward  witnesses  in  some  other  legal  ceremonies  among  the 
Romans.  Then  the  plaintiff  might  drag  the  defendant  to  court  by  force  in 
any  way,  even  by  the  nock,  (see  Matt,  xviii,  28  ;)  but  worthless  persons,  such 
as  thieves  and  robbers,  might  be  dragged  before  a  judge  without  the  formal 
ity  of  calling  a  witness.  If  on  the  way  to  the  judge  the  difficulty  was  set 
tled,  no  further  legal  steps  were  taken.  See  ADAM'S  Roman  Antiquities, 
12th  Ed.,  p.  98. 

To  this  custom  our  Saviour  refers  in  the  text.  When  the  accused  is  thus 
legally  seized  by  the  accuser,  he  is  urged  to  make  up  Ins  quarrel  while  on 
the  way  to  the  judge,  so  that  no  further  legal  process  be  had. 

V,  34.    I  say  unto  you,   Swear  not   at  all. 

The  Pharisees  taught  that  there  were  two  kinds  of  oaths — the  violation  of 
one  being  perjury,  and  that  of  the  other  an  innocent  matter,  or  at  most 
but  a  slight  offense.  If  the  name  of  God  was  in  the  oath  it  was  binding; 
this  the  Saviour  refers  to  in  verse  33.  If  the  name  of  God  was  not  in  the  oath 
it  need  not  be  kept.  Jesu*,  on  the  other  hand,  objects  to  this  distinction ;  and 
further  teaches  that  it  is  wrong  to  indulge  in  profanity.  The  Orientals 
were  very  profuse  in  their  swearing;  and  examples  are  found  in  classic 
writers  of  the  different  sorts  of  oaths  referred  to  in  verses  34-36.  The 
habit  has  continued  to  the  present  day,  as  various  travelers  have  testified. 
Among  others,  Dr.  Thomson  says :  u  This  people  are  fearfully  profane. 
Every  body  curses  and  swears  when  in  a  passion.  No  people  that  I  have  ever 
known  can  compare  with  these  Orientals  for  profaneness  in  the  use  of  the 
names  and  attributes  of  God.  The  evil  habit  seems  inveterate  and  universal. 
.  .  .  The  people  now  use  the  same  sorts  of  oaths  that  are  mentioned  and 
condemned  by  our  Lord.  They  swear  by  the  head,  by  their  life,  by  heaven, 
and  by  the  temple,  or,  what  is  in  its  place,  the  Church.  The  forms  of  curs 
ing  and  swearing,  however,  are  almost  infinite,  and  fall  on  the  pained  ear 
all  day  long," — The  Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  i,  p.  284. 


V,  41.  Whosoever  shall  compel  thee  to  go  a  mile,  go  with  him 

There  is  reference  here  to  an  ancient  Persian  custom,  which  was  adopted  by 
the  Persian  government.  The  Persians  introduced  the  use  of  regular  couriers 
to  carry  letters  or  news.  See  note  on  Job  ix,  25.  The  king's  courier  had 
absolute  command  of  all  help  that  was  necessary  in  the  performance  of  his 

Matthew.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  339 

task.  He  could  press  ho.-sea  into  his  service,  and  compel  the  juvners  to  ac 
company  him  if  he  desired.  To  refuse  compliance  with  his  demands  was  an 
unpardonable  offense  agdinst  the  king. 


VI,  2.  When  thou  doest  thine  alms,  do  not  sound  a  trumpet 
before  thee,  as  the  hypocrites  do  in  the  synagogues  and  in 
the  streets,  that  they  may  have  glory  of  men. 

1.  Some  have  thought  from  these  words  that  it  was  customary,  literally,  to 
sound  a  trumpet  before  an  alms-giver.     However  this  might  have  been  in  the 
streets,  it  certainly  could  not  be  permitted  "in  the  synagogues,"  as  it  would 
disturb  the  services  there.     There  is  no  evidence  whatever  that  any  such 
custom  was  ever  practiced  by  alms-givers.     The  words  are  therefore  to  be 
understood  in  a  figurative  sense,  which  is  based  on  the  custom  of  heralds 
making  public  announcements ;  or  there  may  be  an  allusion  to  the  trumpet 
which  was  sounded  before  actors  and  gladiators  when  they  were   brought 
into  the  theater;  or  to  the  trumpet  which  was  sounded  six  times  from  the 
roof  of  the  synagogue   to  usher  in  the  Sabbath.     We  have  corresponding 
phrases  in  modern  languages.     "In  G-erman,  ausposaunen  and  an  die  grosse 
Glocke  schlagen ;  in  English,  '  to  sound  one's  own  trumpet,'  'to  trumpet  forth,1 
'  every  man  his  own  trumpet ; '  in  French,  faire  qaelque  chose  tambour  battant, 
trompetter ;  in  Italian,  trompetar,  bucinar"—TnoLUCK,  Sermon  on  the  Mount, 
p.  298.     The  idea  of  the  text  is  simply  that  alms-giving  should  be  unaccom 
panied  by  ostentation. 

2.  It  was  customary  among  the  Jews  to  give  alms  to  the  poor  who  were 
assembled  before  the  entrance  to  the  temple  or  synagogue.     This  is  referred 
to  in  Acts  Hi,  3,  where  the  lame  man  asked  alms  of  Peter  and  John  as  they 
were  going  into  the  temple.     Chrysostom  makes  reference  to  the  custom 
as  afterward  practiced  in  front  of  the  early  Christian  churches.     See  BINO- 
HAM,  Antiquities  of  the  Christian  Church,  Book  XIII.,  chap,  viii,  §  14.     It  may 
be  that  in  the  text  the  word   "  streets  "  refers  to  the  space  in  front  of  the 

In  the  synagogues  there  was  a  regular  form  of  giving  alms,  the  offerings 
being  deposited  in  the  alms-boxes  before  the  prayers  began.  Thus  the 
Saviour  speaks  first  of  alms-giving,  and  next  of  prayer.  Sometimes,  on 
special  occasions,  the  congregation  handed  their  alms  to  the  proper  officer. 

644.— THE  TWO   HANDS. 

VI,  8.  "When  thou  doest  alms,  let  not  thy  left  hand  know  what 
thy  right  hand  doeth. 

This  is  a  proverbial  expression,  found  also  in  classic  and  Rabbinical  authors. 
We  know  of  no  custom  alluded  to  in  this  proverb  save  the  general  habit  of 

.  4 

340  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   ClJSTOMS.  [Matthew. 

giving  with  the  right  hand,  as  it  is  more  conveniently  used  than  the  other; 
but  Mr.  Jowett  speaks  of  a  custom  he  noticed  in  Palestine,  which,  if  it  ex 
isted  in  our  Lord's  time,  might  have  suggested  the  saying  of  the  text.  In 
giving  an  account  of  his  visit  to  Nablous,  Mr.  Jowett  says:  "  The  manner 
in  which  the  Samaritan  priest  desired  me,  on  parting,  to  express  our  mutual 
g'ood-will,  was  by  an  action,  than  which  there  is  not  one  more  common  in 
all  the  Levant.  He  put  the  forefinger  of  his  right  hand  parallel  to  that  of  his 
left,  and  then  rapidly  rubbed  them  together,  while  I  was  expected  to  do 
the  same,  repeating  the  words,  'right,  right ;'  or,  in  common  acceptation, 
'  together,  together.'  It  is  in  this  manner  that  persons  express  their  consent 
on  all  occasions:  on  concluding  a  bargain,  on  engaging  to  bear  one  another 
company,  and  on  every  kind  of  friendly  agreement  or  good  understanding." 
—  Christian  Researches,  etc.,  p.  209. 

The  idea  of  the  text  may  be,  that  alms-giving  is  not  to  be  a  matter  where 
the  hands  are  put  together  in  token  of  an  understanding  with  some  one 
else,  but  it  is  to  be  done  privately. 


VI,  7.  When  ye  pray,  use  not  vain  repetitions,  as  the  heathen 
do :  for  they  think  that  they  shall  be  heard  for  their  much 

Some  of  the  rabbis  in  our  Lord's  time  had  taught  that  oft- repeated  prayers 
were  of  certain  efficacy,  thus  falling  into  an  imitation  of  the  heathen,  who 
have  ever  been  noted  for  unmeaning  repetitious.  When  Elijah  challenged 
the  worshipers  of  Baal,  they  called  on  their  god  "from  morning  even  unto 
noon,  saying,  0  Baal,  hear  us."  1  Kings  xviii,  2G.  When  Paul  excited  the 
rage  of  Demetrius,  who  in  turn  aroused  the  mob  at  Ephesus,  the  angry 
crowd  "  all  with  one  voice  about  the  space  of  two  hours  cried  out,  Great  is 
Diana  of  the  Ephesiaus."  Acts  xix,  34.  It  would  seem  as  if  the  further 
men  become  removed  from  true  spiritual  worship  the  greater  estimate  they 
put  on  oft-repeated  forms.  The  Mohammedans  equal  the  heathen  in  this 
respect.  After  the  storming  of  Seringapatam,  the  body  of  Tippoo  Sahib  was 
found  among  the  slain,  and  in  his  pocket  was  a  book  of  devotion  with  various 
forms  of  prayer,  and  among  them  the  following:  "QGod,  Q  God,  O  God, 
0  God !  0  Lord,  0  Lord,  O  Lord,  0  Lord  !  O  Living,  0  Immortal!  O  Living, 
0  Immortal  1  0  Living,  0  Immortal !  O  Living,  0  Immortal !  O  Creator 
of  the  heavens  and  the  earth  !  0  tliou  who  art  endowed  with  majesty  and 
authority!  0  wonderful,"  etc. — BURDER,  Oriental  Customs,  No.  !>:31. 

The  Hindus  consider  the  repetition  of  the  name  of  a  god  an  act  of  wor 
ship.  They  say  the  name  of  God  is  like  fire,  through  which  all  sins  aio 
consumed ;  hence  the  repetition  of  the  names  of  their  deities  is  a  common 
practice.  According  to  Ward,  they  even  have  rosaries,  the  beads  of  which 

Matthew.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  341 

they  count  off  in  order  to  facilitate  these   repetitions.     They   imngine  that 
by  this  easy  process  they  can  obtain  any  tiling  they  desire. 

646.— GRASS  FOR  FUEL. 

VI,  30.    The  grass  of  the  field,  which  to-day  is,  and    to-morrow 
is  east  into  the  oven.     See  also  Luke  xii,  23. 

So  great  is  the  scarcity  of  fuel  that  even  dried  grass  and  withered  flowers 
are  used  for  making  a  fire.  They  are  carefully  gathered  and  carried  in  bun 
dles,  sometimes  in  the  arms,  and  sometimes  loaded  on  donkeys. 

See  also  note  on  1  Kings  xvii.  10;  and  on  Psa.  Iviii,  9. 


VII,  9.    What  man  is  there  of  you,  whom,  if  his  son  ask  bread, 
will  he  give  him  a  stone?    See  also  Luke  xi,  11. 

The  point  of  this  question  will  be  more  apparent  when  it  is  remembered 
that  the  loaves  of  bread  bore  some  resemblance  in  general  appearance  to 
round,  flat  stones.  A  similar  allusion  may  be  noticed  in  the  narrative  of  our 
Lord's  temptation,  where  the  devil  suggests  that  Jesus  change  the  stones 
into  bread.  See  Matt,  iv,  4;  Luke  iv,  4. 

Some  of  the  bread  used  in  the  East  at  the  present  time  resembles  stones 
in  other  respects  than  in  mere  appearance.  Palmer  represents  the  bread, 
which  is  daily  doled  out  to  the  Arabs  by  the  monks  of  St.  Catharine's  on 
Mount  Sinai,  as  of  decidedly  stony  character.  He  playfully  says:  "One  of 
these  loaves  I  brought  back  with  me;  an  eminent  geologist,  to  whom  I  sub 
mitted  it,  pronounced  it  'a  piece  of  metamorphic  rook,  containing  fragments 
of  quartz  embedded  in  an  amorphous  paste.'  No  decently  brought-up 
ostrich  could  swallow  one  without  endangering  his  digestion  for  the  term  of 
his  natural  life."— The  Desert  of  the  Exodus,  p.  61. 

64§.— THE  SCRIBES. 

VII,  29.  He  taught  them  as  one  having  authority,  and  not  aa 
the  scribes.  See  also  Mark  1,  22. 

Anciently  the  scribes  were  merely  officers  whose  duties  included  writing 
of  various  kinds:  but,  on  the  return  of  the  Jews  from  the  Babylonish  cap- 
tivity,  the  sopherim,  as  the  scribes  were  called,  were  organized  by  Ezra  into 
a  distinct  body,  and  they  became  interpreters  of  God's  law  as  well  as  copy 
ists.  Among  other  duties,  they  copied  the  Pentateuch,  the  Phylacteries, 
(see  note  on  Matt,  xxiii,  5,)  and  the  Mezuaoth.  See  note  on  Deut.  vi,  9.  So 
great  was  their  care  in  copying  that  they  counted  and  compared  all  the  let 
ters,  to  be  sure  that  none  were  left  out  that  belonged  to  the  text,  or  none 
admitted  improperly.  On  stated  occasions  they  read  the  law  in  the  syna- 



gogues.  They  also  lectured  to  their  disciples,  and  commented  on  the 

The  lawyers  (see  Matt,  xxii,  35;  Luke  vii,  30;  xi.  45;  xiv,  3)  and  the 
doctors  of  the  law  (see  Luke  ii,  46 ;  v,  17;  Acts  v,  34)  were  substantially 
the  same  as  the  scribes.  Efforts  have  been  made  to  show  that  different 
classes  of  duties  were  assigned  to  lawyers,  doctors,  and  scribes,  but  without 
sny  very  definite  results.  It  may  be,  as  some  suppose,  that  the  doctors 
were  a  higher  grade  than  the  ordinary  scribes.  The  scribes  were  all  care 
fully  educated  for  their  work  from  early  life,  and  at  an  appropriate  time — 
some  say  at  the  age  of  thirty — they  were  admitted  to  office  with  special 
forms  of  solemnly. 

The  scribes  were  not  only  copyists  of  the  law,  but  they  were  also  the 
keepers  of  the  oral  traditionary  comments  and  additions  to  the  law.  Gradu 
ally  accumulating  with  the  progress  of  time  these  were  numerous,  and  were 
regarded  by  many  as  of  equal  value  with  the  law  itself.  To  this  Jesus  alludes 
in  Mark  vii,  5-13.  Paul  represents  himself  us  having  been,  before  bis  con 
version,  "exceedingly  zealous  of  the  traditions"  of  his  fathers.  Gal.  i,  14. 
The  scribes  also  adopted  forced  interpretations  of  the  law.  endeavoring  to 
find  a  special  meaning  in  every  word,  syllable,  and  letter.  Thus  the  Saviour 
charges  them:  "  Woe  unto  you,  lawyers!  for  ye  have  taken  away  the  key 
of  knowledge :  ye  entered  not  in  yourselves,  and  them  that  were  entering 
in  ye  hindered.''  Luke  xi,  52. 

At  the  time  of  Christ  the  people  were  increasingly  dependent  on  the  scribes 
for  a  knowledge  of  their  Scriptures.  The  language  of  the  Jews  was  passing 
into  the  Aramaic  dialect,  and  the  mass  of  the  people,  being  unable  to  under- 
gtand  their  own  sacred  books,  were  obliged  to  accept  the  interpretation  which 
the  scribes  put  upon  them.  Hence  their  astonishment,  as  indicated  in  the 
text,  at  the  peculiar  style  of  teaching  adopted  by  Jesus,  and  especially  illus 
trated  in  his  Sermon  on  the  Mount.  The  scribes  repeated  traditions;  Jesus 
spake  with  authority :  "  I  say  unto  you."  They  had  but  little  sympathy  with 
the  masses;  he  went  about  mingling  with  the  people,  and  explaining  to  them 
in  a  simple  practical  way  the  duties  of  religion. 

649.— THE  BED. 

IX,  6.    Arise,    take   up   thy    bed,    and   go    unto   thine   house.     See 

also  Mark  ii,  9-^12. 

The  "  bed  "  was  simply  a  mat  or  blanket  which  could  be  carried  in  the 
hands.  The  poor  sometimes  had  no  other  bed  than  the  outer  garment.  See 
note  on  Deut.  xxiv,  12.  13,  The  wealthier  people  in  the  East  have  quilts  or 
mattresses  filled  with  cotton,  which  are  spread  on  the  floor  or  on  the  divan. 
Bee  note  on  2  Kings  i,  4.  In  the  text  the  paralytic,  being  healed,  was  told 
to  take  up  his  bed  and  go  home.  All  he  had  to  do  was  to  roll  up  his  blanket 



134 — ROLLING  UP  A  BED. 

and  depart.  A  similar  incident  took  place  at  the  pool  of  Bethesda.  See 
John  v,  8,  9,  11,  12.  On  such  simple  "beds"  the  sick  wore  easily  carried. 
This  is  referred  to  in  Matt,  ix,  2;  Murk  ii,  3,  4;  Luke  v,  18 ;  Acts  v,  15. 


IX,  15.  Jesus  said  unto  them,  Can  the  children  of  the  bride- 
chamber  mourn,  as  long  as  the  bridegroom  is  with  them  ? 
See  also  Mark  ii,  19 ;  Luke  v,  84. 

The  "children  of  the  bride-charnber  "  were  the  friends  and  acquaintances 
who  participated  in  the  marriage  festivities.  The  expression  "  child "  or 
"children,"  like  that  of  "father,"  (see  note  on  Gen.  iv,  20,  21,)  is  an  Orien 
tal  form  of  speech,  and  is  designed  to  show  some  relation  between  the  per 
son  to  whom  it  is  applied  and  certain  qualities  existing  in  that  person, 
or  certain  circumstances  connected  with  him;  these  qualities  or  c'rcum- 
stances  being  the  result  of  that  relation.  Thus  people  who  are  brought  to 
gether  on  occasion  of  a  marriage-feast  are  called  the  "  children  of  the  bride- 
chamber."  So  when  any  passion  or  influence,  good  or  bad,  gets  control  of 
men,  they  are  said  to  be  the  children  of  that  passion  or  influence.  Thus  we 
have  "children  of  wickedness,"  2  Sam.  vii,  10;  "children  of  pride,"  Job 
xli,  34 ;  "  children  of  the  kingdom,"  and  "  children  of  the  w'cked  c  ie,"  Matt. 
xiii,  38;  "children  of  this  world,"  and  "children  of  light"  Luke  xvi,  8; 
"  children  of  disobedience,"  Eph,  ii,  2  ;  Col.  Hi,  6 ;  "  ch'ldren  of  wrath," 
Eph.  ii,  3. 




We  find  a  similar  idiom  in  the  use  of  the  word  "son"  and  "daughter." 
We  have  "  sons  of  Belial  "  in  Judges  xix,  22.  and  in  several  other  passages; 
"sons  of  the  mighty,"  Psa.  Ixxxix,  6;  "sons  of  thunder,"  Mark  iii,  17; 
"son  of  consolation,"  Acts  iv,  36;  "son  of  perdition,"  2  Thess.  ii,  3.  We 
have  also  "daughter  of  Belial,"  1  Sam.  i,  16;  ''daughters  of  music,"  Eccl. 
xii,  4;  "daughter  of  troops,"  Micah  v,  1. 


IX.  17.  Neither  do  men  put  new  wine  into  old  bottles  :  else 
the  bottles  break,  and  the  wine  runneth  out,  and  the  bottles 
perish:  but  they  put  new  wine  into  new  bottles,  and  both  are 
preserved.  See  also  Mark  ii,  22;  Luke  v,  87. 

The  use  of  bottles  made  from  the  skins  of  animals  is  very  ancient,  and  is 
still  practiced  in  the  East.  The  skins  of  groats  and  kids  are  commonly  taken 
for  this  purpose,  and  are  usually  so  fashioned  as  to  retain  the  figure  of  the 
animal.  In  preparing  the  bottle,  the  head  and  feet  are  cut  off,  and  the  skin 
stripped  whole  from  the  body.  The  neck  of 
the  animal  sometimes  makes  the  neck  of  the 
bottle;  in  other  cases  one  of  the  fore-legs  is 
used  as  an  aperture  through  which  the  liquid 
may  be  poured  out.  The  thighs  serve  as 
handles ;  by  attaching  straps  to  them  the 
bottle  can  be  fastened  to  the  saddle,  or  slung 
over  the  shoulder  of  the  traveler.  The  Arabs 
135.— ANCIENT  SKIN-BOTTLES.  tan  the  skins  with  Acacia  bark  and  leave  the 
hairy  side  out.  For  a  large  party,  and 
for  long  journeys  across  the  desert,  the 
skins  of  camels  or  of  oxen  are  used. 
Two  of  these,  when  filled  with  water, 
make  a  good  load  for  a  camel.  They 
are  smeared  with  grease  to  prevent  leak- 
age  and  evaporation.  These  water-skins, 
large  and  small,  are  much  better  than 
earthen  jarg  or  bottles  for  the  rough  ex 
periences  of  Oriental  traveling.  Earthen 
bottles  are,  however,  sometimes  em 
ployed  in  domestic  use.  See  note  on 
Jer.  xix,  1. 

The  "bottle"  which  Hagar  carried 
into  the  wilderness,  and  from  which  she 
gave  Ishmael  drink,  was  probably  a  kid- 
skin.  See  Gen.  xxi,  14.  A  similar  scene  is  represented  in  the  engraving, 


Matthew.]  BIBLE    MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  345 

from  an  ancient  Assyrian  sculpture.  Skin-bottles  were  also  used  for  milk 
(Judges  iv,  19)  and  for  wine  (1  Sam.  xvi,  20.)  In  the  text  and  its  parallels 
allusion  is  made  to  this  use  of  skins.  When  the  skin  is  green,  it  stretches  by 
fermentation  of  the  liquor  and  retains  its  integrity;  but  when  it  becomes 
old  and  dry,  the  fermentation  of  the  new  wine  soon  causes  it  to  burst. 

For  the  mode  of  repairing  skin-bottles  when  broken,  see  note  on  Josh. 

652.— FRINGES. 

IX,  20.  Came  behind  him,  and  touched  the  hem  of  his  gar 
ment.  See  also  Luke  viii,  44. 

According  to  the  Mosaic  law  every  Jew  was  obliged  to  wear  a  fringe  or 
tassel  at  each  of  the  four  corners  of  the  outer  garment,  one  thread  of  each 
lassel  to  be  deep  blue.  These  tassels  were  to  be  to  them  a  perpetual  re 
minder  of  the  law  of  God,  and  of  their  duty  to  keep  it.  See  Num.  xv,  38,  39 ; 
Deut.  xxii,  12.  This  was  the  ''hem"  which  the  poor  woman  touched,  sup 
posing  there  was  some  peculiar  virtue  in  it.  So  the  people  of  Gennesaret 
brought  their  sick  to  Christ  for  a  similar  purpose.  See  Mark  vi,  56,  where 
the  same  word  in  the  original,  Kpaanedov.  is  rendered  "  border."  The  Phari 
sees  prided  themselves  greatly  on  these  tassels,  considering  them  as  marks 
of  special  sanctity  in  the  wearers,  and  therefore  sought  to  enlarge  their  size. 
See  Matt,  xxiii,  5. 

653.— THE  PURSE. 

X,  9.  Provide  neither  gold,  nor  silver,  nor  brass  in  your 
purses.  See  also  Mark  vi,  8 ;  Luke  x,  4. 

"  In  your  purses,"  is  literally  "in  your  girdles,"  (Cwvof.)  It  is  quite  com 
mon  to  use  the  folds  of  the  girdle  as  a  pouch,  or  pocket,  for  the  reception  of 
money.  Money  is  also  sometimes  carried  in  a  bag,  which  is  put  into  the  gir 
dle.  This  is  referred  to  in  the  parallel  passage  in  Luke,  where  the  word 
rendered  '-purse"  (ftaluvTiov)  signifies  a  bag. 

654.— SHOES. 

X,  10.    Neither  shoes.     See  also  Luke  x,  4. 

From  the  fact  that,  in  the  parallel  passage  in  Mark  vi,  9,  the  disciples  are 
commanded  to  be  "shod  with  sandals,"  it  has  been  inferred  that  our  Lord 
designed  to  mark  a  distinction  between  shoes  and  sandals,  though  some 
commentators  treat  the  idea  as  absurd.  It  is  certain,  however,  that  in  our 
Lord's  time  there  were,  besides  sandals,  other  coverings  for  the  feet  more 
nearly  approaching  our  idea  of  a  shop.  Some  of  these  covered  the  entire 
loo*,  while  in  others  the  toes  were  left  bare,  as  represented  in  the  engraving. 


346  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  [Matthew. 

The  use  of  shoes  may  have  been  forbidden  to 
the  disciples  because  of  their  luxury,  while  san 
dals  were  allowed  as  articles  of  necessity. 
Thus  the  statement  in  Matthew  and  in  Luke, 
and  that  in  Mark,  may  be  reconciled.  The  shoe 
was  forbidden,  the  sandal  permitted. 

When  the  prodigal  came  back  to  his  fa 
ther's  house  shoes  were  put  on  his  feet.  Luke 
xv,  22. 

For  a  description  of  sandals,  see  note  on  Acts 
187. — ANCIENT  SHOES.          X11>  8. 


X,  14.  When  ye  depart  out  of  that  house  or  city,  shake  off  the 
dust  of  your  feet.  See  also  Mark  vi,  11 ;  Luke  ix,  5. 

The  schools  of  the  scribes  taught  that  the  dust  of  heathen  lands  was  de 
filing.  They  therefore  objected  even  to  bringing  plants  or  herbs  from  heathen 
countries,  lest  some  of  the  dust  should  come  with  them.  Some  of  the  rab 
bins  permitted  this,  provided  no  dust  was  brought  with  the  plants.  They 
give  this  gloss  to  the  rule  :  "  They  take  care  lest,  together  with  the  herbs, 
something  of  the  dust  of  the  heathen  land  be  brought,  which  defiles  in  the 
tent,  arid  defiles  the  purity  of  the  land  of  Israel."  See  LIGHTFOOT,  Horas 

The  Saviour,  doubtless,  alluded  to  this  rabbinical  rule,  and,  by  using  the 
expression  of  the  text,  conveyed  the  idea  to  his  disciples  that  every  place 
which  should  reject  them  was  to  be  considered  heathen,  impure,  profane. 

When  Paul  and  Barnabas  were  driven  from  Antioch,  in  Pisidia,  "  they 
shook  off  the  dust  of  their  feet."  See  Acts  xiii,  51. 

X,  17.    They  will  deliver  you  up    to   the    councils,  and  they  will 
scourge  you  in  their  synagogues.     See  also  Mark  xiii,  9. 

1.  In  addition  to  the  Great  Sanhedrim  or  Council  (for  a  description  of 
which  see  note  on  Matt,  xxvi,  59)  there  were  councils  of  an  inferior  degree. 
There  is  some  obscurity  in  connection  with  their  history  and  construction. 
Thev  are  supposed  to  have  been  originated  by  Moses.  See  Deut.  xvi,  18. 
In  later  times  there  were  two  of  them  in  Jerusalem,  and  one  in  each  town 
in  Palestine.  The  rabbins  say  there  were  twenty-three  judges  to  each  of 
these  councils  in  every  place  where  the  population  was  a  hundred  and 
twenty,  and  three  judges  where  the  population  was  less.  Josephus,  how 
ever,  says  that  there  were  seven  judges  to  each  council,  and  that  each  judge 
had  two  Levites  to  assist  him. 

Matthew.]  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND   CUSTOMS.  347 

These  councils  had  power  not  only  to  judge  civil  cases,  but  also  such  crim 
inal  cases  as  did  not  come  within  the  jurisdiction  of  the  Supreme  Court, 
or  Sanhedrim.  In  the  provinces  they  at  first  met  in  the  market-place,  but 
afterward  in  a  room  adjoining  the  synagogue.  Some  writers  suppose  that 
these  local  provincial  councils  are  identical  with  the  "  elders  "  and  "  rulers  of 
the  synagogue,"  so  often  mentioned  in  the  New  Testament.  See  article 
"  Synagogue,"  in  KITTO'S  Cyclopedia,  vol.  iii,  p.  902  b.  See.  further,  note  on 
Acts  xiii,  15.  The  connection  in  the  text  between  councils  and  scourging 
seems  to  indicate  this,  unless  it  can  be  shown,  as  some  have  asserted,  that 
the  "  rulers  of  the  synagogue  "  formed  a  council  apart  from  the  smaller 

2.  The  discipline  of  the  synagogue  was  severe.  Besides  excommunica 
tion,  (see  note  on  John  ix,  22,)  scourging  was  sometimes  practiced.  The 
number  of  the  stripes  was  limited  by  law  to  forty.  Deut.  xxv,  3.  To  pre 
vent  the  possibility  of  excess,  by  mistake  in  counting,  the  legal  number  was 
reduced  by  one.  Paul  was  thus  beaten  five  distinct  times.  2  Cor.  xi,  24. 
It  is  said,  however,  that  in  aggravated  cases  the  stripes  were  laid  on  with 
greater  severity  than  usual. 

The  rabbins  reckon  a  hundred  and  sixty-eight  faults  to  be  punished  by 
scourging ;  in  fact,  all  punishable  faults  to  which  the  law  has  not  annexed 
the  penalty  of  death.  "The  offender  was  stripped  from  his  shoulders  to  his 
middle,  and  tied  by  his  arms  to  a  pretty  low  pillar,  that  he  might  lean  for 
ward,  and  the  executioner  might  more  easily  come  at  his  back.  ...  It  is 
said  that,  after  the  stripping  of  the  criminal,  the  executioner  mounted  upon 
a  stone,  to  have  more  power  over  him,  and  then  scourged  him  both  on  the 
back  and  breasts  with  thongs  made  of  an  ox's  hide,  in  open  court,  be'ore 
the  face  of  the  judges."— BURDER,  Oriental  CWows,  No.  1)49. 

Scourging  in  the  synagogues  is  also  referred  to  in  Matt,  xxiii,  34.  Paul 
admits  that  in  his  days  of  wickedness  he  had  in  this  manner  maltreated 
Christians.  Acts  xxii,  19. 

For  an  account  of  Eoman  scourging,  see  note  on  Matt,  xxvii,  26. 


X,  27.  What  ye.  hear  in  the  ear,  that  preach  ye  upon  the  house 
tops.  See  also  Luke  xii,  3. 

Public  proclamations  are  still  made  from  the  housetops  by  the  governors 
of  country  districts  in  Palestine.  Thomson  says:  "Their  proclamations  are 
generally  made  in  the  evening,  after  the  people  have  returned  from  their 
labors  in  the  field.  The  public  crier  ascends  the  highest  roof  at  hand,  and 
lifts  up  his  voice  in  a  long-drawn  call  upon  all  faithful  subjects  to  give  ear 
and  obey.  He  then  proceeds  to  announce,  in  a  set  form,  the  will  of  their 
master,  and  demand  obedience  thereto."— The  Land  and  the  Book,  vol.  i,  p.  51. 

34:8  BIBLE   MANNERS   AND    CUS1OMS.  [Matthew. 

In  the  contrast  expressed  between  hearing  privately  and  proclaiming  pub 
licly,  there  may  also  be  reference  to  the  mode  of  instruction  in  the  schools 
of  the  rabbis.  L'ghtfoot  expresses  this  opinion,  and  says :  "  The  doctor 
whispered,  out  of  the  chair,  into  the  ear  of  the  interpreter,  and  he,  with  a 
loud  voice,  repeated  to  the  whole  school  that  which  was  spoken  in  the  ear.'' 
—JJorcs  Hebraica.  He  also  suggests  that  the  reference  to  the  house-tops 
may  be  an  allusion  to  the  custom  of  sounding  the  synagogue  trumpet  from 
the  roof  to  usher  in  the  Sabbath.  See  note  on  Matt,  vi,  2. 

658.— THE  ASS  ART  US. 

X,  29.    Are  not  two  sparrows  sold,  for  a  farthing  ? 

'Aaaupiov  is  one  of  the  two  words  rendered  "farthing"  in  our  version. 
It  was  the  Roman  as  or  assarius,  a  copper  coin,  equal  in  value  to  a  tenth  of 

a  denarius,  (see  note  on  Matt,  xx, 
2,)  or  three  farthings  English,  or 
one  cent  and  a  half  American. 

In  Luke  xii,  6.  two  assaria  are 
spoken  of.  It  is  thought  that  a 
single  coin  is  there  intended  of  the 
value  of  two  assaria.  The  Vul- 

138.-ASSA1UON.  gate  has  dipondius.    Madden  says: 

"It  is  very  clear  from  the  fact  of 

the  word  dupondius,  or  dipondius,  which  was  equal  to  two  asses,  and  was  a 
coin  of  itself,  being  substituted  for  the  two  assaria  of  the  Greek  text,  that 
a  single  coin  is  intended  by  this  latter  expression.  This  idea  is  fully  borne 
out  by  the  coins  of  Chios.  The  Greek  autonomous  copper  coins  of  this  place 
have  inscribed  upon  them  the  words  ACCAPION,  ACCAPIA  AYQ  or 
ATO  and  ACCAPIA.  TPFA."— History  of  Jewish  Coinage,  p.  243. 


XI,  16,  17.  It  is  like  unto  children  sitting  in  the  markets,  and 
calling  unto  their  fellows,  and  saying,  We  have  piped  unto 
you,  and  ye  have  not  danced  ;  we  have  mourned  unto  you, 
and.  ye  have  not  lamented.  See  also  Luke  vii,  81,  32. 

There  is  allusion  here  to  the  habits  of  children,  who,  in  the  East  as  else 
where,  imitate  in  sport  what  they  see  performed  in  sober  earnest  by  adults. 
The  public  processions  and  rejoicings  on  Oriental  wedding  occasions,  and 
the  great  lamentations  at  funerals,  make  such  an  impression  on  the  young 
mind  that  children  introduce  imitations  of  them  into  their  plays.  Some  of 
them  play  on  imaginary  pipes,  while  ethers  dance,  as  at  weddings.  Again, 
some  of  them  setup  an  imitation  of  a  mournful  wail,  to  which  others  re 
spond  in  doleful  lamentations,  as  at  funerals.  Thc-n  at  times  there  will  bo 

Matthew.]  BIBLE   MANNERS  AND   CUSTOMS.  349 

found  some  stubborn  little  ones,  of  perverse  spirit,  who  will  not  consent  to 
take  part  in